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Iraqis Fear Return of 'Death Squads' To Baghdad Streets

In light of escalating political crises and sectarian divisions in Iraq, some fear the return of Baghdad’s infamous "death squads," who reigned with terror over the past 10 years.
Iraqis inspect the damage following fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City August 7, 2006. Two people were killed and 18 wounded when U.S. and Iraqi forces raided a suspected death squad in the mostly Shi'ite area of Sadr City in east Baghdad, a police source said. The U.S. military said they were targeting suspected members of a punishment and torture cell.   REUTERS/Kareem Raheem    (IRAQ) - RTR1G607
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The term "death squads" evokes an unequaled panic among Iraqis. Memories of the killings based on ID cards during the Iraqi civil war cannot be forgotten. The civil war erupted after the bombing of the holy Shiite shrine in Samarra in 2006, and transformed ethnically-mixed cities in Iraq — particularly Baghdad — into the biggest scene of conflict. During the war, atrocities were committed by both Sunni and Shiite armed groups, including exchange killings and forcibly displacing people to different neighborhoods.

In turn, the death squads were the most ambiguous aspect of the war. They carried out kidnappings and killings by wearing Iraqi police uniforms, and traveling in official and military vehicles in 2006-2007 — while an evening curfew was in place (from midnight to 6 a.m.) — to hunt for their victims.

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