Sixty Shi’ites taken hostage in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. and Iraqi forces are trying to secure the release of a group of Shi’ite Muslims being held hostage in a town south of Baghdad, where rising sectarian tensions threaten to provoke armed conflict.

Shi’ite officials in Baghdad said they believed as many as 60 hostages were being held in Madaen, a town 25 miles southeast of the capital, after being seized by Sunni gunmen late on Friday. The gunmen have threatened to kill the hostages unless Shi’ites leave the town, the Shi’ite officials said.

But a senior police source in Baghdad said the number of hostages may be far fewer and said the abductions were the latest in a series of tit-for-tat kidnappings caused by growing antagonism between Sunnis and Shi’ites in the town. Full Story

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