Insurgents kill 21 Shiites in Iraqi village

Gunmen broke into two Shiite homes and killed 21 men in front of their relatives in an Iraqi village, police said Saturday, as US Vice President Dick Cheney sought Saudi Arabia's help in calming Iraq after an especially violent week of sectarian violence. The capital remained under a 24-hour curfew two days after suspected Sunni insurgents killed 215 people in Baghdad's main Shiite district with a combination of bombs and mortars. Another 87 people were killed or found dead in sectarian violence across Iraq on Friday. The chaos cast a shadow over the summit next week between Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Bush in Amman, Jordan. Politicians loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have threatened to boycott parliament and the Cabinet if al-Maliki goes ahead with the meeting. The political bloc, known as Sadrists, is a mainstay of support for al-Maliki. Sadrist lawmaker Qusai Abdul-Wahab blamed US forces for Thursday's attack in Sadr City because they failed to provide security. In Diyala province, a hotbed of Iraq's Sunni-Arab insurgency, gunmen raided two Shiite homes Friday night. The attack targeted members of the al-Sawed Shiite tribe in the village of Balad Ruz, 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of Baghdad, according to a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his own security, as officials often do in the increasingly volatile province. Earlier that day, rampaging militiamen burned and blew up four mosques and torched several homes in the capital's mostly Shia neighborhood of Hurriyah. Iraqi soldiers at a nearby army post failed to intervene in the assault by suspected members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia or subsequent attacks that killed a total of 25 Sunnis, including women and children, said police Capt. Jamil Hussein.