Attackers killed three members of Iraq's security forces on Saturday by firing from speeding vehicles at army soldiers and policemen in the northern city of Kirkuk, officials said. The gunmen killed one policeman and two soldiers as they were on their way to work in two separate drive-by shootings, police Brig. Sarhat Qadir said. At least seven people were killed, three of them policemen, in an explosion in a restaurant in Baquba north of Baghdad, an Iraqi army officer said, according to <i>AFP</I>.
Further to the north, in Mosul, a car bomb damaged one vehicle in a U.S. military convoy, but there were no reports of casualties.
A Filipino contract worker, Francisco Luz, was fired and wounded Saturday in Baghdad, police and hospital officials said.
Meanwhile, Sunni gunmen have seized a number of Shiite hostages in the central Iraqi town of Madain and are threatening to kill them unless all Shiites leave, government officials and a Shiite political group said Saturday.
On Thursday, Sunnis placed explosives inside a local mosque, severely damaging it, said Haitham Husseini, a spokesman for the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution, Iraq's largest Shiite group. The following day, they returned and seized between 35 and 50 Shiite men, he said, according to The AP.
Husseini added his group had asked the Iraqi interior and defense ministries to take action in the town, about 25 kms southeast of Baghdad.
A Defense Ministry official said at least 70 people had been taken hostage in the town and Iraqi security forces were surrounding the area, trying to contain the situation.
Sabah Khadum, an official at the Interior Ministry, said the kidnappers had come from outside the town and were trying to stir up conflict among its residents.