Baghdad Suspected al-Qaida fighters stormed two villages near Baqouba on Thursday, bombed the house of a local Sunni sheik and kidnapped a group of mostly women. Residents were finally able to drive off the attackers and end the deadly rampage.
Seventeen villagers, including seven women, were killed in the assaults roughly 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Ten al-Qaida gunmen also died.
The twin attacks near the Diyala provincial capital hit a Shiite village and a Sunni village with the same ferocity but apparently different motives.
The attack on the Sunni village, Ibrahim al-Yahya, began when about 25 gunmen exploded a bomb at the house of Sheik Younis al-Shimari, destroying his home and killing him and one member of his family.
Seven people were kidnapped. Two of the abducted men were found shot in the head on a road leading out of town. The rest of the captives were women, and their fate was unknown.
While the Sunni village was under attack, another band of alleged al-Qaida fighters stormed Timim, the nearby Shiite village and an obvious sectarian target, according to Baqouba police Brig. Ali Dlaiyan, who reported both assaults and gave the casualty tolls. He said the villagers were able to fight off the attack in a 30-minute gunbattle.