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Sectarian attacks kill 30 a day in Baghdad--US

Written by: Staff
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BAGHDAD, Mar 16 (Reuters) The number of sectarian killings in Baghdad has risen to an average of 30 a day from 10 a day since last month's bombing of a Shi'ite shrine, a US military spokesman said today.

The dumping of bodies, many of them bound and showing signs of torture, has long been a feature of Iraq's violence.

The number of such incidents has risen sharply since the bombing of the shrine in Samarra, which unleashed a wave of reprisal killings against Sunni mosques and homes.

The bodies of at least 80 people apparently killed in sectarian attacks were found in Baghdad in the 48-hour period that ended on Monday. Those killings followed the death of 50 people in car bomb attacks in a Shi'ite militia stronghold.

Major General Rick Lynch told reporters al Qaeda and foreign fighters were behind many of the sectarian killings as part of a campaign to incite ever worse sectarian violence in Iraq.

''When they blew up the Golden Mosque on February 22, that was the reason ... We believe now that these murders are a combination of activities by terrorists and foreign fighters to keep the sparks flying and to provoke retaliation,'' Lynch told reporters.

REUTERS OM KP2229

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