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Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:40AM
An Iraqi boy peers into the blood stained car of two women shot dead in central Baghdad on October 9, 2007. (file photo)

An Iraqi boy peers into the blood stained car of two women shot dead in central Baghdad on October 9, 2007. (file photo)

Iraqi security and medical sources say at least 12 people have been killed in separate shootings in another day of violence in Iraq. On Friday, gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying Iraqi soldiers en route to a military camp in the town of Taji, north of Baghdad, killing eight soldiers and injuring one, AFP reported. Earlier in the day, armed men disguised in Iraqi military uniforms killed Khalil al-Ajili, a local leader of the pro-government and anti-al-Qaeda Sahwa (Awakening) militia, and three of his sons at his house in the city of Baquba, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of the capital. The attack raised the death toll for Sahwa fighters to 17 for the month of March. The Sahwa forces fought against al-Qaeda from 2006 to 2008. The al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq network has often targeted Sahwa fighters. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a shadowy group that was once allegedly led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was reportedly killed in June 2006. According to US government and military officials, after Zarqawi’s death, the group’s leadership fell to Ayyub al-Masri, who was killed, along with Abu Omar al-Baghdadi -- another leader of the group -- in a joint operation by Iraqi and US troops in Salahuddin province in April 2010. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been accused of being behind some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country since the US-led invasion in March 2003. Friday’s incidents are the latest in a string of attacks that have left more than 500 people dead across the country this year, according to a tally by Agence France-Presse. On Thursday, coordinated bombings across the Iraqi capital killed at least 21 people and injured over 50 others. Violence has increased in Iraq since December 2011, when an arrest warrant was issued for fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who has been charged with running a death squad targeting Iraqi officials and Shia Muslims. In response, the government has stepped up efforts to boost security across the country. MHB/HGL
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