Nine people have been found dead in two brutal incidents in Iraq -- one where militants forced Shia policemen to pray before killing them, and another where decapitated heads were left in a market.
The two incidents both took place in Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad, leaving nine dead in all, security and medical officials said on Sunday.
In Tuz Khurmatu, an ethnically-mixed town that has been hit by regular attacks, militants surrounded a police encampment protecting a stadium construction site and gathered the six policemen as a group and shot them all dead, two security officials and a doctor at the local hospital said.
One of the six, however, only died at hospital, and according to a local Tuz Khurmatu official, said that the militants had attempted to find out if the policemen were Sunni or Shia before killing them.
The militants asked them which sect they belonged to and the policemen, who were Shia Turkmen, initially said they were Sunni in an effort to save themselves, the town official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But because prayer rituals of Sunnis and Shias differ in certain key aspects, the victims were forced to pray as a group and their efforts to mask their confessional background were undone.
In a separate incident in Baiji, the decapitated heads of three men were found in a town market Sunday morning, two police officers in the town said.
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