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U.S. Military Builds Barrier To Separate Sunni, Shi'a

April 20, 2007 -- The U.S. military says it is building a 5-kilometer wall to separate a Sunni enclave from the surrounding Shi'ite neighborhoods in Baghdad.

The military said in a statement that the security wall is "one of the centerpieces of a new break the cycle of sectarian violence."

Iraqi soldiers stationed at checkpoints will control all access to the neighborhood of Azamiyah.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have set up barriers elsewhere in Baghdad to prevent attacks, but the current project is apparently the first to divide neighborhoods by sect.

In other news, Amnesty International says Iraq is now among the countries with the highest use of the death penalty in the world.

In a report today, the rights group said Iraq executed at least 65 people in 2006, including two women. It said only China, Iran, and Pakistan used the death penalty more frequently.

The death penalty was suspended after the U.S.-led coalition toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, but Iraqi authorities reinstated it one year later. The former Iraqi leader was himself executed in December.


Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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