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In Baghdad, 35 bodies are found. U.S. reports three troop deaths.

Times Staff Writer

Gunmen stormed a Baghdad sports club Wednesday and kidnapped a coach and a member of a national team for blind athletes, and authorities discovered more than 30 bodies in the capital amid persistent sectarian violence.

U.S. military officials announced the deaths of two troops a day earlier in Al Anbar province in western Iraq, raising to at least 105 the number of American fatalities in October. A statement issued by the military said one soldier was assigned to the Regimental Combat Team 7.

Early today, the military announced the first death in November. It said a soldier was killed Wednesday when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb west of Baghdad.

Bombings and mortar attacks in the capital killed at least 11 people Wednesday, and the toll from a bomb blast at a pre-wedding gathering Tuesday climbed to 23.

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Violence by armed groups in the capital has continued despite a high-profile campaign by U.S. and Iraqi forces to establish order. Many of the killings and kidnappings are part of a wider sectarian conflict between Shiite Muslim and Sunni Arab militias that has convulsed Iraq since the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra in February.

In Wednesday’s kidnapping, gunmen in pickups seized the two men in broad daylight. One of the captives, Khalid Najim Deen, coached the “bell ball” team for the blind and sight-impaired. The other victim was a 33-year-old player, Esam Khalaf.

In bell ball, players seek to roll a ball with a bell past defenders into a goal. The Iraqi team was training for a tournament for the blind in Malaysia.

Qahtan Nuaiemi, who heads the Iraqi committee that sponsors Olympics for the disabled, said the incident underscored the brutality of the violence.

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Sports officials and coaches have fallen victim to a number of killings and kidnappings in recent months. Gunmen abducted an Olympic soccer player and the head of Iraq’s Olympic committee and shot to death a former national volleyball player.

In other Baghdad violence, separate bombings targeted a police patrol and a market, killing seven people and injuring more than 20. And a pickup loaded with explosives blew up, apparently prematurely, killing the three occupants. A mortar round killed a policeman in west Baghdad.

In addition, 35 bodies were recovered throughout Baghdad, all bearing signs of having been slain execution-style.

For the second consecutive day, parliament was unable to convene because too few Iraqi lawmakers had showed up.

The episode highlighted the fissures in some political groups.

The parliament speaker, Mahmoud Mashadani, engaged in a bitter exchange with a fellow Sunni Arab lawmaker during a news conference at which Mashadani chided his colleagues for absenteeism.

When the lawmaker, Abdul-Kareem Samaraie, spoke up, Mashadani lashed out and accused him of corruption. The state-run television station abruptly ended its broadcast of the news conference.

ellingwood@latimes.com

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Times staff writer Saif Hameed contributed to this report.


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