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Gunmen in military uniforms kill 29 in Iraqi village

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Death toll in Baghdad suicide car bombing rises to 11
  • Gunmen in military uniforms kill 29 in attack on a village near Baquba
  • U.S. kills 5 trying to plant roadside bombs, U.S. military says
  • Shiite bloc aligned to anti-U.S. cleric's camp returns to Iraq parliament
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents wearing military uniforms killed 29 people in an attack early Tuesday on a village near Baquba, while a suicide car bomber struck an army patrol east of Baghdad, killing 11, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

Four people also were wounded in the attack on the village, Duwailiya, a Shiite community northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province.

A spokesman for the military command in Diyala province confirmed that the gunmen "were wearing military uniforms but they were in civilian vehicles."

The spokesman said that 10 of the victims were treated so brutally they can't be identified.

The Iraqi command spokesman said the gunmen intended to make villagers think they were soldiers but instead they were "deviated gangs" led by al Qaeda in Iraq.

"Eyewitnesses said that the villagers were surprised when they saw a large number of these terrorists surrounding the village from every entrance, aiming their weapons at the chests of the children, men and women in an act that clearly showed that there is premeditated decision from these Takfiri gangs to cause the most number of casualties among these unarmed civilians," the spokesman said. Takfiri is a reference to Muslim extremists.

The military said it has taken precautions to guard "the remaining families in the region."

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The spokesman said soldiers will be traveling at all times in military vehicles. He said armed people dressed as soldiers in civilian vehicles should be treated as terrorists.

U.S. and Iraqi troops have been fighting insurgents in Operation Arrowhead Ripper in and around Baquba, the capital of Diyala -- the eastern province northeast of Baghdad. Other operations are in Anbar province, to the west of Baghdad, and in hotspots south of the capital.

In Tuesday's suicide car bombing east of the capital in Zayyouna, three Iraqi soldiers were among the 11 dead. Fifteen people were injured, including four soldiers.

Also Tuesday, a car bomb exploded in a parking lot near the Iranian Embassy in central Baghdad, killing four people and wounding three others, an Interior Ministry official said. The attack took place in the Jumhoriya bridge area of the capital, the official said.

On the political front, Iraq's Sadrist bloc -- a powerful 30-member Shiite faction -- has ended its boycott of the country's parliament.

The bloc's leader, Nassar Rubaie, said Tuesday that the government had addressed its concerns over the need to pursue the rebuilding of Al-Askariya Mosque, the bombed-out Shiite shrine in Samarra, and to improve security at the shrine and other holy places.

The bloc, which is in the political camp of populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, walked out after the mosque was bombed for a second time in June.

The Askariya shrine also was bombed in February 2006, but there had been no work on rebuilding the structure since then. The first bombing unleashed a no-holds-barred wave of Sunni-Shiite fighting that continues to this day.

The return to the 275-member Council of Representatives comes after many meetings among bloc members, parliament members and government officials, Rubaie said.

"The parliament agreed to a reconstruction timetable, and a new committee will be formed in order to make sure that these demands are met on time," he said.

In other violence, the Interior Ministry said that the bodies of two Iraqi police officers kidnapped over the weekend were found Tuesday in western Baghdad's Mansour district. They were abducted Sunday while guarding a telecommunications firm in Baghdad.

Also in Mansour, gunmen opened fire on civilians who were waiting in line at a gas station, the Interior Ministry said. Three people died and two others were wounded in the attack.

On Monday, one person was killed and two others were wounded in an explosion in eastern Baghdad's Adhamiya district, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

Other developments

  • Five insurgents trying to plant roadside bombs southeast of Baghdad were killed on Tuesday by U.S. helicopter fire, the U.S. military said. The military said two UH-64 Apache helicopters, part of Task Force Marne, killed the men and destroyed a truck. Task Force Marne troops have been involved in major sweeps against insurgents on the southern outskirts of the capital.
  • The British Defense Ministry is considering withdrawing about 500 of its troops from Iraq, where Britain has been in command of coalition forces in the southern part of the country. The ministry on Tuesday confirmed that a written statement will be submitted to Parliament on Thursday regarding troop rotation. "It is expected to include details of a troop reduction if the conditions are right to hand over the Basra Palace to the Iraq Army," the ministry said. Britain has about 5,500 troops in Iraq, after recently cutting its contingent from 7,000.
  • A massive U.S.-led offensive has been launched against insurgents in the western reaches of the Sunni heartland, the U.S. military said Tuesday. Operation Mawtini started Sunday in western Anbar province, launched by Regimental Combat Team 2, a push that "calls for over 9,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors and Iraqi army members," the military said.
  • U.S.-led coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists, including a local leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, during operations Tuesday in Mosul, a U.S. military statement said. According to intelligence reports, the alleged al Qaeda in Iraq leader is responsible for mortar and sniper attacks against Iraqi forces and an attack in December against coalition forces, the military said. On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers, backed by coalition forces, captured the alleged emir of Qayyara for Al Qaeda. Qayyara is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Mosul.
  • A Marine in Iraq's Anbar province died Monday in a "noncombat related incident," the U.S. military said on Tuesday. The death toll so far in July for U.S. troops in Iraq is 37. There have been 3,618 U.S. military deaths since the war began, including seven civilian employees of the Defense Department.
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