Gunmen Attack Iraqi Women
"I am, you know, amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they're willing to...you know, that there's a level of violence that they tolerate."
-Bush replying to a question about the Johns Hopkins report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the administration began bombing
Gunmen attacked Shiite women picking vegetables in a field outside the capital Friday, killing six adults and two young girls and kidnapping two teenagers. It was one of the deadliest assaults specifically targeting women in Iraq's monthslong wave of sectarian violence.
Police said they suspected the gunmen were Sunnis seeking to intimidate Shiites into fleeing the area south of Baghdad. Previous major attacks in Iraq have killed many women and men together, and at times individual women have been shot or kidnapped. But rarely have large groups of women been attacked.
In another sign of sectarian bloodshed, police in Duluiyah north of Baghdad found 14 beheaded bodies thought to be from a group of 17 workers kidnapped by gunmen Thursday while traveling home to the mostly Shiite town of Balad. There was no word on the other abductees.
The attack on the farm field took place outside Saifiya, an ethnically mixed village south of Baghdad. Most residents already fled to escape violence, Sunnis going to the nearby town of Madain, Shiites to neighboring Suwayrah.
The women were gathering vegetables when gunmen pulled up in two cars around 8 a.m. and surrounded the field. They opened fire, killing six women and two girls about 4 or 5 years old, Lt. Mohammed al-Shammari said. The attackers forced two teenage girls into the cars and escaped, he said.