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Five teachers slain at Iraq elementary

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents dragged five Shiite Muslim schoolteachers and their driver into a classroom, lined them against a wall and gunned them down Monday – slayings in Iraq’s notorious Triangle of Death that reflect the enflamed sectarian divisions ahead of a crucial constitutional referendum.

The shooting was a rare attack on a school amid Iraq’s relentless violence, and it was particularly stunning since the gunmen targeted teachers in a school where the children were mainly Sunnis. Elsewhere Monday, a suicide attack and roadside bombings killed 10 Iraqis and three Americans, bringing to at least 52 the number of people killed in the past two days.

In the north, a top aide to al-Zarqawi surrendered to police in the city of Mosul, Iraqi army Brig. Gen. Ali Attalah said Monday. The aide, Abdul Rahman Hasan Shahin, was one of the most wanted figures in Mosul, Attalah said.

There have been few attacks on schools in Iraq, which have little protection – though children are constant witnesses to, and sometimes victims of, the violence.

Classes had just ended at the Al-Jazeera Elementary School in the village of Muelha, 30 miles south of Baghdad, when the shooting took place at about 1:15 p.m. Police Capt. Muthana Khaled said that as five Shiite teachers got into a minivan to head home, two cars pulled up carrying gunmen wearing police uniforms as a disguise. The nine gunmen forced the teachers and their driver out of the van in front of students who were milling outside the school.

The attackers dragged the six men into an empty classroom, lined them against a wall and shot them to death, Khaled said. The gunmen escaped.


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