Baghdad, Iraq (PM News)
Apartment blocks near a mosque and a kindergarten daubed with cartoon characters seem an unlikely place for the slaughter of 27 alleged prostitutes, but in Baghdad death is never far.
Few people in the Iraqi capital’s Zayouna district know any details of what happened in their neighbourhood late on Saturday, and even fewer want to hazard a guess.
Residents of the rubbish-strewn area of crumbling grey apartment blocks say they stopped asking questions long ago in a city awash with guns and gangs and cursed with an ineffectual and politicised police force.
“People are afraid. They don’t know their neighbours. Everyone’s concerned about the safety of their own family and home. … Some prostitutes were killed near me a few months ago and the neighbours only found out days later because of the smell,” said Zayouna resident Wissam Sami, 23, a student.
“I don’t know who carries out these killings. Both Daash and the Shiite militias wear black and anyone can buy a uniform or fake an identity card.”
Daash is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadist group, now known as Islamic State, which last month overran swathes of northern and western Iraq. The word is often used as a catch-all term for Sunni militants.
AFP reporters were able to pass unchallenged through the main police checkpoint into Zayouna, where the previous evening police said gunmen stormed two apartment buildings and killed 27 women with silenced weapons.
“This is the fate of any prostitution,” read a inscription on the door of the one of the raided buildings.