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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraqi Insurgents Stepping Up Attacks

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Stepped-up attacks by insurgents over the last two days have killed at least 45 Iraqis, including 12 laborers -- five of them brothers -- who were gunned down at a construction site, police said Monday.

In addition, the bodies of eight Iraqis who apparently were kidnapped and killed in captivity, were found in the capital on Monday, police said.

Meanwhile, the toll among American service members in the Iraq war was approaching 2,000 dead. At least 1,997members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Monday's worst attack occurred in the Saydiyah area of southwestern Baghdad when suspected insurgents opened fire at two civilian cars, killing three of the municipal workers they were carrying and an Iraqi passerby, said police Captain Talib Thamir.

A suicide car bomber killed two Iraqis and wounded five in an attack on a police patrol in the northeastern neighborhood of Shaab, where insurgents had kidnapped and murdered a defense lawyer in Saddam Hussein's trial last week, said police Lieutenant Malik Sultan.

Insurgents opened fire on an Iraqi army checkpoint in western Baghdad, killing a soldier and a girl who was standing in front of her nearby house, said police First Lieutenant Thaeir Mahmod.

In two other attacks in the capital, a drive-by shooting killed one policeman and two others were wounded by a roadside bomb, authorities said.

On Sunday, more than 33 Iraqis died in a swell of violence in Iraq, including 12 laborers, five of them brothers, who were gunned down by insurgents at a construction site outside the city of Hillah, about 95 kilometers south of Baghdad, police said.

With high unemployment in Iraq, men often travel long distances from their homes to find jobs as day laborers in cities.

The corpses of eight Iraqis -- five men and three women -- also were found in three different areas of Baghdad on Monday morning, police said. All of them apparently had been kidnapped, tied up or handcuffed, and shot to death.

Shaab, where the suicide car bomb exploded on Monday, is the area of Baghdad where 10 gunmen wearing police and military uniforms on Thursday kidnapped Sunni Arab Saadoun Sughaiyer al-Janabi, one of the defense lawyers in the trial of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and seven former officials from his Sunni-dominated regime.

Al-Janabi was taken from his office in the Shaab area, and hours later his tortured and bullet-ridden body was found on a sidewalk by the Fardous Mosque in the nearby Ur neighborhood.

The 12 remaining Hussein trial defense lawyers have since rejected an offer from the Interior Ministry for better security, demanding protection from American officials instead.