Iraqi footballers wounded

BAGHDAD - Four footballers with one of the star teams in Iraq's top league were wounded on Sunday in a mortar attack while training in a Baghdad stadium, their manager said.

BAGHDAD - Four footballers with one of the star teams in Iraq's top league were wounded on Sunday in a mortar attack while training in a Baghdad stadium, their manager said.

Members of the Al-Zawra squad were out in force at the Al-Shashiga stadium in the downtown Haifa district of Baghdad, enjoying the early afternoon winter sun, when a mortar round exploded on the pitch, Abdul Rashid said.

Three players were seriously wounded and a fourth was more lightly hurt by flying shrapnel, Rashid said.

Lying on the western bank of the Tigris, the largely Sunni neighbourhood of Haifa is a frequent battleground in the city's growing sectarian war, as well as a flashpoint for clashes between insurgents and US forces.

Baghdad-based Al-Zawra is one of the top outifits of the Iraqi football league, competing in the first division of the national championships - a tournament suspended in the capital for security reasons.

Travelling in Iraq is so dangerous that the Iraqi league has been divided into three regions - a potentially ominous development for a country desperately trying to hold itself together.

Sport is a frequent casualty in war-torn Iraq.

Officials have been kidnapped and murdered while the whole Iraqi Olympic committee was once abducted. - Sapa-AFP

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