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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Baghdad minibus attack kills 10
Scene of a suicide attack on Monday near the Green Zone in central Baghdad
The area near the heavily-fortified Green Zone is often a target
Gunmen have opened fire on a minibus in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least 10 Shia Muslims, police say.

The vehicle, bearing a coffin, was heading to a funeral in the southern city of Najaf, which is holy to Shias.

Two cars drew up alongside the minibus, which was travelling on a road in a southern suburb, and sprayed it with gunfire. There were no survivors.

Also on Tuesday, a suicide bombing near the Green Zone in central Baghdad killed five people and injured 10.

Police said that blast targeted a restaurant frequented by police.

The heavily protected Green Zone houses the US military headquarters, the US and UK embassies, and Iraqi government buildings.

Also in Baghdad, gunmen attacked a Saudi Arabian import and export company in the western Mansour area, killing five Iraqi employees.

The latest violence follows two days of tit-for-tat sectarian attacks that have killed dozens of people.

Religious duty

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Baghdad says that many of Iraq's Shia Muslims believe it a religious duty to bury their dead in the cemetery in Najaf, around 150km south of the capital.

The vehicles they travel in, weighed down with a coffin, make them easily identifiable to those searching for Shia Muslims to kill.

There has been an upsurge in sectarian violence in Iraq in recent months, raising fears of a civil war.

In a separate incident, gunmen in Baghdad kidnapped an Iraqi foreign ministry official who had been serving as a diplomat in neighbouring Iran.

Police in Baghdad said Wissam Jabr had been visiting his family in Iraq.

He was abducted on Tuesday morning, after his car was blocked by armed kidnappers in several vehicles in the Amil neighbourhood of southern Baghdad.

Trial adjourned

The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was adjourned for two weeks on Tuesday after the chief judge ordered defence lawyers to end their boycott.

Scene of a bombing an mortar attack in Sadr city on Monday
Recent days have seen a series of tit-for-tat sectarian killings

"Tell your colleagues who are out of the country that if they do not show up next time, they will hurt the case of their clients," Chief Judge Raouf Abdel Rahman told those lawyers who attended the short hearing.

"The trial will go on with or without them, it will be with court-appointed lawyers if we have to."

Senior defence lawyers again boycotted Tuesday's session. They were due to begin presenting their closing arguments on Monday, but they said they would boycott the proceedings until they received enhanced security following the killing last month of a third member of the defence team.

The former president and most of his co-defendants were not in court on Tuesday either.

All of the defendants are being tried in connection with the killing of 148 people in the village of Dujail in the 1980s, after a failed attempt on Saddam Hussein's life.

He and six others will face a second trial in August, on charges relating to alleged genocide of Kurdish people.




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