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Stories Conflict on Whether Two Baghdad Teachers Beheaded in Front of Their Students--

There have been conflicting reports on whether two teachers were beheaded in front of their students:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Ministry of State for National Security said on Wednesday two groups of gunmen entered two primary schools in Baghdad and beheaded two teachers in front of their students.

But the U.S. military and a police official said the attacks never took place.

"Two terrorist groups beheaded two teachers in front of their students in the Amna and Shaheed Hamdi primary schools in Shaab district in Baghdad," a ministry statement said.

An official in the ministry's press office also confirmed the report.

But the U.S. military said it was false.

"There is no substance to this report. It did not occur. But we are still checking with Iraqi police and other sources," said U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Johnson.

Police Major Kassim Ahmed told a Reuters reporter who went to the scene: "This is not true. It is made up."

The Sydney Morning Herald (tip to Tim Blair) reported the stories as true. Note the last paragraph explaining the motive for the supposed beheadings:

Separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools in Baghdad and beheaded two teachers in front of their students, the Ministry of State for National Security said.

"Two terrorist groups beheaded two teachers in front of their students in the Amna and Shaheed Hamdi primary schools in Shaab district in Baghdad," a ministry statement said.

A ministry official said he believed the attacks were aimed at: "intimidating pupils and disrupting learning".

© 2006 Reuters, Click for Restrictions

The odd thing is that the source for both stories is Reuters. Presumably, the SMH story was put out first and the Reuters-UK story at the top of this post was the later version.