44 Sunni prisoners at a police station inside the Iraqi city of Baquba were killed last night, reportedly at the hands of forces affiliated with the country's Shiite-dominated government, as Sunni rebels attacked the city. Baquba's city center is less than 40 miles from the outskirts of Baghdad.
An Iraqi government official said the prisoners died when the building where they were being held was shelled by rebels—essentially blaming their death on their own alleged allies—but a New York Times source at the morgue where the bodies were taken told the paper that "many of the victims had been shot to death at close range," and another source told the paper the prisoners had been killed by police:
A police source in Baquba said the prisoners were killed after militants who had been advancing on Baquba attacked the police station, where the men, who were suspected of having ties to the militants, were being held for questioning...“They were killed inside the jail by the policemen before they withdrew from the station last night.”
Baquba's police commander said today that the attacks by rebels had ultimately been repulsed; militants have been near the city for several days.
Meanwhile, in Baghdad, the bodies of four men presumed to be Sunnis were found on a street after having been shot to death—especially concerning, the Times writes, because the event's details fit "fit the familiar pattern of death squads during the sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007," when as many as 80 people a day were killed in Baghdad and its suburbs.