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Police and Militants Gun Down Sunnis in Revenge Attacks

Shiite militants and police killed as many as 60 people in revenge shootings against Sunni residents of Tall Afar, Iraq, on Wednesday. Two regional experts discuss the violence and the repercussions.

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  • SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent:

    These are the scenes from yesterday's massive truck bombings in the northern Iraqi town of Tall Afar. The two simultaneous blasts Tuesday ripped through separate markets in Shiite areas, killing at least 60 people and wounding dozens more.

    The chaos and carnage sparked a revenge killing spree there today, with Shiite militants and police killing dozens of Sunnis.

    Tall Afar, a mainly ethnic Turkmen city, is located 260 miles northwest of Baghdad in the province of Nineveh. On religious lines, it is divided between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

    Tall Afar became an al-Qaida stronghold after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 2005, a U.S. operation, under the command of Colonel H.R. McMaster, seen here at the time, a specialist in counterinsurgency warfare, recaptured Tall Afar. And the Bush administration touted that effort as a centerpiece in driving al-Qaida out of Iraq.

    In a speech last year, President Bush spoke at length about Tall Afar.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: The success of Tall Afar also shows how the three elements of our strategy in Iraq — political, security and economic — depend on and reinforce one another.

    By working with local leaders to address community grievances, Iraqi and coalition forces helped build the political support needed to make the military operation a success. The military success against the terrorists helped give the citizens of Tall Afar security, and this allowed them to vote in the elections and begin to rebuild their city.

    And the economic rebuilding that is beginning to take place is giving Tall Afar residents a real stake in the success of a free Iraq. And as all this happens, the terrorists, those who offer nothing but destruction and death, are becoming marginalized.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    Although U.S. and Iraqi forces remain in control of the city, Tall Afar has been the target of continued sporadic attacks.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to Gwen Ifill.