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Iraqi Gunmen Kill 21 Shi'ites Northeast Of Baghdad


Iraqi police say gunmen have raided two Shi'ite homes in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, killing 21 people.

Authorities say the assailants dragged 21 men out of their homes late Friday and shot them dead. The bodies were found early today Saturday.

There has been an escalation of violence in Iraq following a series of bombings in Baghdad's Shi'ite district of Sadr City. Thursday that killed more than 200 people.

A day later, suspected Shi'ite militiamen carried out a wave of apparent reprisal attacks against Sunni Arab mosques in Baghdad, killing 30 people. The Iraqi capital remains under a strict curfew.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces killed at least 22 insurgents and one civilian during operations today-Saturday north of the capital.

On the diplomatic front, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah, with Iraq expected to be high on the agenda.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had planned to leave for Tehran Saturday to speak with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but called off the trip due to the security clampdown in Baghdad. The Iraqi president says he will go on Sunday if the Baghdad airport re-opens.

President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are scheduled to meet on Wednesday and Thursday in the Jordanian capital, Amman to discuss the situation in Iraq.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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