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Shia family of 8 shot, beheaded south of Baghdad

BAGHDAD - Eight members of one Shia family were killed south of Baghdad Monday in the worst incident of a bloody day across Iraq that left at least 23 dead. The spate of attacks - and the fact that some of the family were beheaded - raised fears that insurgents are trying to reignite sectarian warfare at a time when the country is preparing for critical March elections.

A "terrorist group" using guns fixed with silencers shot and beheaded eight members of a single family in the village of Wahda, a mixed Shia-Sunni village 20 miles south of the capital, the Baghdad security command said in a statement.

Authorities provided no further details about how many were shot, how many beheaded and provided little other information about what they described as an "ugly crime."

U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Stephen Lanza said U.S. officials had been worried about a rise in violence ahead of the election, but said it was too soon to tell whether the death of the family of eight was specifically tied to the vote.

In other violence, six people were hurt after three mortar rounds struck the Green Zone early Monday morning.

Five people died after a booby-trapped car blew up in Ramadi, two police officials said. In Baghdad, gunmen broke into the home of a family, killing all four, police said. However, authorities said the motive might have been robbery, noting that the gunmen took the family's car.

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