Gunmen kidnap foes of al-Qaida in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Eleven Siite and Sunni tribal leaders who had banded with U.S. troops to fight al-Qaida in Iraq were kidnapped Sunday morning, fellow tribesmen said. One was found shot to death.

The Shiite and Sunni sheiks, members of the al-Salam Support Council, a group fighting al-Qaida in Iraq in Diyala province, were taken from their cars by gunmen in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad. The sheiks had attended a meeting in Baghdad to discuss coordinating efforts against al-Qaida in Iraq, authorities said.

Hadi al-Anbaki, a spokesman for the mostly Shiite council, said the attack was carried out by the Mahdi Army, a militia controlled by the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. “This was an ambush,” Anbaki said.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, said the threat from the terror network has been “significantly reduced” in the capital. He warned that the group remains “a very dangerous and very lethal enemy.”

Petraeus said the reduced threat from al-Qaida had given way to nonsectarian crimes such as kidnapping, corruption in the oil industry and extortion.

Also Sunday, at least 35 people were killed or found dead across the nation.

In the worst incidents, a suicide car bomber in the northern city of Kirkuk killed eight people and wounded 25 at a bus terminal, police said.

In Diyala province, a grave containing 15 bodies, mainly of female students, was found northeast of Baqubah in an area under the control of al-Qaida in Iraq, according to local officials.

Meanwhile, Turkish troops reportedly killed 15 Kurdish separatist guerrillas in southeastern Turkey, hundreds of miles from the increasingly tense border with northern Iraq, which Turkey has threatened to cross to root out fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

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