Iraqi Sunnis say sect targeted in southern city


BAGHDAD — A Sunni community leader in Iraq’s Shiite-dominated southern city of Basra says gunmen have shot dead 17 members of the minority sect over the past two weeks, following threats to retaliate against them for attacks on Shiites.

Abdul-Karim al-Khazrachi, who leads the Sunni Endowment in Basra that oversees holy sites, said the sect had decided to close down its mosques because of the danger. He says the slain included clerics, worshippers and others.

A police officer in the city confirmed the 17 killings. He spoke anonymously as he was not authorized to talk to media.

Khazrachi told The Associated Press that the killings followed written letters and text messages late last month that vowed retaliation for insurgent attacks against Shiites across Iraq. He said he didn’t know the killers’ identities.