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Iraq Transition

Dozens of Iraqi security workers abducted

In separate attack, 18 men found strangled in Baghdad


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• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Armed men wearing police commando uniforms Wednesday seized about 50 guards and employees of an Iraqi private security company, Iraqi police said.

The 25 gunmen stormed the Rawafed security firm in the Zayuna district of Baghdad during a two-hour raid.

Three security guards who escaped told police that the men also took money and documents.

The gunmen and their captives left in 10 to 15 vehicles, police said.

Zayuna is a southeast Baghdad neighborhood with a mixed population of Sunnis, Shiites and Christians.

The Interior Ministry, which oversees police commando units, and the Defense Ministry both said the raid was not conducted by their officers.

Interior Minister Bayan Jabr was upset by the incident and ordered a detailed report, said a high-ranking ministry official.

The raid followed a gruesome discovery Tuesday night in western Baghdad.

Police found the bodies of 18 men who had been strangled and with their hands tied behind their backs, an official with the Baghdad Emergency Police said Wednesday.

The bodies were discovered in a minibus in the Amiriya neighborhood, the official said.

The men were of various ages and were not immediately identified. (Watch as a man checks out the bodies in the morgue -- 2:05)

Baghdad police also said six other bodies were found in the capital: five had been shot, one had been beheaded.

Similar discoveries over the past few months -- mostly in Baghdad -- have helped to fuel concerns over the possibility of civil war between Shiite and Sunni Arabs.

However, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, while criticizing media coverage Tuesday, told reporters at the Pentagon he didn't think there was a civil war in Iraq.

"They want just the opposite," Rumsfeld said of the Iraqi people. "And they've demonstrated the courage to show that they want just the opposite." (Watch as Rumsfeld disputes talk that Iraq is headed toward civil war -- 1:19)

Other developments

  • Also Wednesday, the U.S. military announced the death of a soldier who was the victim of a roadside bomb in the northern city of Tal Afar. Four others soldiers were wounded. The military also announced Wednesday that a Marine was killed during fighting in al-Anbar province. The Marine was assigned to the 1st Marine Logistics Group. Since the start of the war, 2,306 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.
  • Roadside bombs in Baghdad killed at least three police officers and wounded 18 people, including eight civilians, on Wednesday.
  • In Falluja, west of Baghdad in Anbar province, a roadside bomb killed two civilians in their car on Wednesday, a hospital official told CNN.
  • Also Wednesday, gunmen in western Baghdad killed Hussein Ali, a former Iraqi Army officer under Saddam Hussein, police said.
  • An Iraqi civilian died Wednesday "when he failed to obey traffic warnings to stop his vehicle and collided with a Multi-National Division-Baghdad Bradley Fighting Vehicle in east Baghdad," the U.S. military said.
  • Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi signed a presidential council decree Wednesday calling for the Iraqi parliament to meet soon, an official in the vice president's office said. The official said Iraqi leaders will gather Thursday to determine when parliament will be called into session. The Council of Representatives was supposed to begin meeting Sunday, but political wrangling has delayed the first session.
  • Iraqi and coalition authorities released 120 male detainees on Wednesday, the U.S. military said.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon, Cal Perry and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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