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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Dozens of bodies found in Baghdad
Crying Iraqi man
Families across Baghdad are suffering as loved ones are killed
Forty-seven bodies have been found across Baghdad, police say, raising the total number of corpses found in recent days in the Iraqi capital to 176.

Many of the victims had been tortured or shot in the head or chest.

Police said 21 bodies were found in eastern Baghdad, and the other 26 in the west of the city.

A BBC correspondent in Baghdad says many are likely to have been killed by sectarian death squads, but some may have been victims of criminal gangs.

The discovery of the 47 bodies came just a day after police said they had recovered 50 corpses from the city's streets in a 24-hour period.

Baghdad has been hit by a rising wave of sectarian violence over the past six months.

The BBC's James Shaw, in Baghdad, says it is not clear if there has been a sharp increase in killings by death squads or whether the police are taking more care to record such deaths.

Warnings

Thousands have died amid high tensions between Baghdad's Shia and Sunni Muslim communities since the bombing of a holy Shia shrine in the city of Samarra in February.

Sunni militants and Shia death squads are regularly blamed for abductions and murders.

In the Haria district in north-west Baghdad, leaflets have appeared on the streets threatening to kill 10 Sunnis for every Shia death, our correspondent says.

Shops and houses have been marked with red crosses warning people that they must leave or be killed, he adds.

At least 25 US soldiers have died during September in Iraq.

'Trench' plan

Baghdad's death toll is rising against a background of an increased emphasis on security by the Iraqi government.

A checkpoint in Baghdad
Baghdad's entrances are expected to controlled by troops
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Maliki launched a high-profile security clampdown aimed at reducing the level of violence within the city.

Extra US troops have been drafted in to patrol the city streets and support Iraqi forces.

On Friday, Iraq's Interior Ministry said it was planning to construct a series of trenches around Baghdad to regulate those entering and leaving the city.

A senior military officer with the ministry said the ring of trenches would funnel insurgents and others involved in violence through an unavoidable series of 28 checkpoints on their way into or out of Baghdad.

But the US played down the plan, suggesting the scheme would not involve digging new trenches around Baghdad's 50-mile (80km) circumference and that it would mainly incorporate existing canals and other obstacles.

Much of the land surrounding the city is already covered by a network of irrigation canals and makes off-road driving extremely difficult.

A spokesman for Iraq's Defence Ministry said the plan was designed to control the entrances to the city and close all "illegal routes".


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