Staff and agenciesWednesday March 28, 2007
The shootings in Tal Afar, a city in the north-west of Iraq, were an apparent revenge attack for yesterday's bombings that killed at least 63 people in a Shia district.
The officers were said to have started roaming around Sunni neighbourhoods on foot early in the morning, shooting at Sunni residents and homes, the Associated Press reported.
The shootings continued for more than two hours, officials said, before Iraqi army troops moved into the Sunni areas to stop the violence.
Police said dozens of Sunnis were killed or wounded, but they had no precise figures. A senior hospital official in Tal Afar said at least 45 men aged 15 to 60 were killed with shots to the back of the head, and four others were wounded.
"I wish you can come and see all the bodies. They are lying in the grounds. We don't have enough space in the hospital," a doctor at Tal Afar's main hospital told the Reuters news agency.
The Iraqi army has placed a curfew on the entire town, according to Wathiq al-Hamdani, the provincial police chief and his head of operations, Brigadier Abdul-Karim al-Jibouri.
"The situation is under control now," said Mr Hamdani. "The local Tal Afar police have been confined to their bases and policemen from Mosul are moving there to replace them."
Brig Jibouri said he was heading to Tal Afar to take charge of the situation.
Two truck bombs hit markets in Tal Afar yesterday killing at least 63 people and injuring some 150 more. The attacks were part of an upsurge in violence in Baghdad and outside the capital in recent days.
Tal Afar is 260 miles north-west of Baghdad and is in the province of Ninevah, of which Mosul is the capital.