Iraqi Tennis Coach, 2 Players Killed for Wearing Shorts

An Iraqi tennis coach and two of his players were killed because they were wearing shorts, apparently in violation of a warning by Islamic extremists.

Gunmen stopped the car in which the athletes were riding and asked them to step out before shooting them Wednesday, Manham Kubba, secretary general of the Iraqi Tennis Union, said Saturday. The coach, Hussein Ahmed Rashid, was Sunni, and the two players were Shiite, Kubba said.

The athletes were in shorts when they were killed and police believe the attack was related to a warning by extremists against such attire, police Lt. Maitham Abdul Razzaq said. He said the warning was made in leaflets distributed in the Sadiyah neighborhood in southwest Baghdad a week before the attack.

The deaths of the three had previously been reported, but the statements provided more details and clarified that all the victims were tennis players.

CountryWatch: Iraq

This was the second attack against athletes in just more than a week.

A taekwondo team was kidnapped in western Iraq while driving to a training camp in neighboring Jordan on May 17. The 15 athletes were snatched on a road between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, a particularly violent area. The athletes were members of a private sports club that hopes to one day send athletes to the Olympics.

Prominent Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi appealed for their freedom during a news conference Saturday at his office in Baghdad.

"I call upon the kidnappers of the taekwondo athletes to release the team," he said.