Seeking revenge for bombing,

Shiites, some police, kill 70

BAGHDAD - Shiite militants and police enraged by deadly truck bombings went on a shooting rampage against Sunnis in a northwestern Iraqi city yesterday, killing as many as 70 men execution-style and prompting fears that sectarian violence was spreading outside the capital.

The killings occurred in the mixed Shiite-Sunni city Tal Afar, which had been an insurgent stronghold until an offensive by U.S. and Iraqi troops in September 2005, when militants fled into the countryside without a fight. Last March, President Bush cited the operation as an example that gave him "confidence in our strategy."

The gunmen roamed Sunni neighborhoods in Tal Afar through the night, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician. Witnesses said relatives of the Shiite victims in the truck bombings broke into Sunni homes and killed the men inside or dragged them out and shot them in the streets.

Gen. Khourshid al-Douski, the Iraqi army commander in charge of the area, said 70 were shot in the back of the head and 40 people were kidnapped. A senior hospital official in Tal Afar, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns, said 45 men were killed.

Also yesterday, the U.S. military reported the combat death of a Marine in Anbar province.

Iran: Britain must admit fault

to get its sailors, marines back

TEHRAN - Iran's foreign minister said yesterday that Britain must admit that its 15 sailors and marines entered Iranian waters in order to resolve a standoff over their capture by Iranian authorities.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's announcement came on a day of escalating tensions, highlighted by an Iranian video of the detained Britons that showed the only woman captive saying her group had "trespassed" in Iranian waters. Britain angrily denounced the video as unacceptable and froze most dealings with the Mideast nation.

Mottaki also backed off a prediction that the female sailor, Faye Turney, could be freed tomorrow, but said Tehran agreed to allow British officials to meet with service personnel.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government announced it was freezing all dealings with Iran except to negotiate the release of its personnel, adding to a public exchange of sharp comments that pushed up tensions in a standoff helping fuel a spike in world oil prices.

Day-care owner holds kids,

wants government to do more

MANILA - A young girl waved a Barbie doll in the air while a boy licked an ice-cream cone. Another girl casually finished a bottle of water while chatting with a classmate.

Dozens of Philippine children were taken hostage on a bus yesterday by a day-care center owner armed with grenades and guns, but the youngsters took the ordeal in stride, eating pizza, smiling and waving from the windows throughout the day.

The crisis ended after 10 hours when 56-year-old civil engineer Jun Ducat, who staged the incident to denounce corruption and demand better lives for impoverished children, released the children, put the pin back in a grenade and surrendered to police.

Jubilant parents were quickly reunited with their children as they filed off the bus clutching dolls, toys and backpacks. Ducat was led to a waiting police car and driven away.

"I was afraid all day that the grenade may explode," said Gerome Agabon, father of 5-year-old hostage Joanne.

Tests show circumcision

cuts transmission of AIDS

GENEVA - The World Health Organization officially recommended circumcision as a way to prevent heterosexual transmission of the AIDS virus yesterday, setting the stage for donor agencies to begin paying for the operation.

The group acted after three clinical trials in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, overseen by the national health agencies of the United States and France, found that male circumcision reduced the risk of infection of men through heterosexual sex by about 60 percent.

- Daily News wire services