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Gunmen kill 11 at Iraqi liquor stores

HEROR, Iraq — A convoy of gunmen opened fire on a row of liquor stores in Baghdad immediately after sunset on Tuesday, killing 11 people and wounding five others, officials said.

Police said the gunmen were in four cars that had stopped in the area. Hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the casualties.

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The attack in the Zayouna neighborhood came as the stores were at their peak business time, when commuters buy alcohol on the way home. Police say the four liquor stores hit had been rebuilt after bombers destroyed them last year.

Nobody claimed responsibility, although Islamic extremists have frequently targeted liquor stores in Iraq, where alcohol is available in most cities.

In the country’s north, the first Kurdish fighters entered Iraq from Turkey as part of a peace deal with Ankara to end a decades-long uprising despite Iraqi objections to the transfer.

The rebels’ retreat to bases in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region is a key stage in the peace process between the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the Turkish government, aimed at ending one of the bloodiest insurgencies.

The PKK declared a cease-fire in March, heeding a call from its imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who is engaged in talks with Turkey to end a nearly 30-year battle that has cost tens of thousands of lives.

Carrying rifles and hand grenades, the first 13 men and women arrived Tuesday in Heror and were greeted by comrades serving tea and cookies.

“We have been on the road for the past seven days,” said ­Sawashka Kawar, one of the fighters. “But today, we made it and arrived in Iraq despite the difficult journey.”

She warned Turkey that if PKK fighters were attacked, they “will fight back.”

The refuge offer came from Iraq’s Kurdish region, which enjoys limited independence from the central government in Baghdad. Iraqi Kurds were involved in the talks with Turkey.

Baghdad has rejected the deal, warning that the entry of more armed Kurdish fighters could harm Iraq’s security and add tension to already souring relations between the self-ruled Kurdish region and the central government.

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