Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Sectarian Strife

Sunni insurgents are at it again. Via the Times:
A day after a large group of gunmen seized scores of Iraqis from a factory, a police raid freed 17 of them, but 34 hostages remained unaccounted for, Fawzi al-Hariri, the Iraqi Minister of Industry, said today.

The abduction, involving 40 or 50 gunmen, some wearing police uniforms, represented a sharp escalation of a tactic that has become increasingly common in the continuing violence here.

The gunmen arrived at the factory in northwestern Baghdad at the end of the day shift on Wednesday in a large number of minibuses, then herded workers and their family members onto buses owned by the company, according to Iraqi officials and to a bus driver who escaped. The buses were normally used to take the workers to Shiite neighborhoods around Baghdad.

Almost immediately, the gunmen released 50 of the hostages, mostly women and children who had accompanied their mothers to the factory. And an hour after the abduction, two bodies were found nearby, an Iraqi official said.

The rest were taken to a poultry farm north of Baghdad, according to a kidnap victim who was interviewed by the Associated Press. The man, a Shiite, said the kidnappers sorted the hostages by ethnicity, and that he was let go because he had forged identity papers that described him as a Sunni.

"One of the gunmen told us to stand in one line and then asked the Sunnis to get out of the line," he said. "That's what I did. They asked me to prove that I am a Sunni, so I showed the forged ID and three others did the same. They released us."
More evidence that the Sunni insurgency wants to foment a civil war between the Sunni minority and the Shia majority and that the death of Zarqawi, although a huge victory for U.S. and Iraqi forces, is merely a drop in the pail.