TIKRIT, (Reuters) – More than 40 people are missing after armed kidnappers ambushed minibuses travelling to Baghdad on a main road north of the Iraqi capital on Tuesday, police in the city of Tikrit said.
An Iraqi spokesman for the Joint Coordination Center of the Iraqi police and U.S. forces in the mainly Sunni Arab province of Salahaddin said “about 42” people were missing after the incident near Tarmiya, 30 km (20 miles) north of Baghdad.
The gunmen set up a fake checkpoint and stopped vehicles to ask drivers if they came from the Shi’ite villages of Balad and Dujail, the spokesman said.
In what has become a grim feature of the sectarian violence gripping Iraq, gunmen select their victims at random checkpoints based on their religious denomination. Most appear dead later.
Last week, fierce clashes broke out in Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of the capital, involving Iraqi police that blocked Iraq’s main highway north from Baghdad to Mosul and the Turkish border.
Dujail is the Shi’ite village where Saddam Hussein survived an assassination attempt in 1982, prompting a government crackdown for which the toppled leader has been tried. He is expecting to hear a possible death sentence verdict on Nov.5.