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Bloodshed continues in Iraq; 16 killed

BAGHDAD -- A string of attacks killed at least 16 people in Iraq yesterday, while gunmen abducted eight policemen guarding a post on the country's main highway to Jordan and Syria, the latest in a wave of violence to grip the country.

The shootings and bombings follow three days of attacks that killed 130 people in both Shia and Sunni areas. The spike in bloodshed in recent weeks has raised fears the country may be heading toward a new round of sectarian conflict.

In yesterday's deadliest attack, gunmen broke into the house of an anti-terrorism police captain in the southern suburbs of Baghdad, killing the officer, his wife and two children, ages 8 and 10, police officials said. The attackers fled the scene and killed another policeman who tried to stop them at a nearby checkpoint.

Meanwhile in the Sunni province of Anbar, gunmen kidnapped eight policemen who were guarding a post on the main highway linking Iraq to both Jordan and Syria, according to two police officials.

Earlier in the day, security forces and gunmen clashed in the area after police tried to arrest a Sunni tribal sheik suspected of being behind the killing of three army intelligence soldiers stopped by gunmen near a protest site in the city of Ramadi last month. Iraqi authorities had offered a bounty for the arrest or information leading to the arrest of the sheik, Khamis Abu Risha, and two other people they say were linked to the killings.

The fighting near Abu Risha's house north of Ramadi left three people wounded. No arrests were made.

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