Gay killings on rise in Iraq?

BAGHDAD, May 28 (UPI) -- About 30 people have been killed in Iraq in the past three months because they were homosexual or believed to be gay, a U.N. agency says.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Rights made its estimate after several men were killed in Baghdad and two others survived torture and mutilation, ABC News reports. Amnesty International wrote Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asking him to take "urgent and concerted action" to protect homosexuals from violence.

A government source said Asaieb al-Haq, a little-known Shiite militia that appeared after the Mahdi Army declared a cease-fire, issued a call to kill homosexuals. At least six men were killed in the next 10 days, two of them in Sadr City, the Shiite area in Baghdad dominated by the Mahdi Army.

But an Army officer, who did not want to be identified, suggested the deaths were the work of tribal vigilantes.

"Two young men were killed Thursday. They were sexual deviants," he said. "Their tribes killed them to restore their family honor."

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