2007: 23 Shia hostages

On this date in 2007, during Iraq’s sectarian civil war, Sunni gunmen avenged the execution of Saddam Hussein by hanging 23 Shia hostages in Baghdad’s Haifa Street.

It was but one instance of retaliatory violence ensuing upon the former dictator’s hanging Dec. 30, with scores killed around the country — many in a similar fashion.

London’s Telegraph reports:

The residents of the city’s Haifa Street will long remember the events of Sunday morning. As shop owners raised their shutters and stall holders set out their stock, three minibuses roared to a halt.

Gunmen jumped out and pulled blindfolded prisoners on to the street. Ropes were tied to lampposts and electricity poles. Those hostages who resisted were shot. Others who were still alive had nooses tied around their necks and were then suspended in mid air to choke to death.

All were left hanging, and the victims received little sympathy from those who witnessed the events.

“We watched as all these blindfolded men were hung up and some were shot in the head,” Imad Atwan, a supermarket worker said.

“Altogether there were 23 bodies. We are all Sunni people here so we supported the gunmen. Some of them are the guards of our neighbourhood.”

The discoveries were not limited to Haifa Street. People murdered in the same way had been found in Al Doura district and Amriya, in western Baghdad.

The interior ministry estimates that 200 Iraqis were taken hostage after Saddam was sentenced to death.

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