This undated photo released by the family shows four-year old Banin Haider, one of two girls brutally raped and killed in a span of less than two months this year. The crimes were particularly brutal, even by the standards of a country where insurgents can still kill dozens in single day: Two young girls kidnapped, repeatedly raped and killed with blows to the head in Iraq's southern Basra province. (AP Photo/Family Photo)
BASRA, Iraq (AP) -- The brutal crimes struck a nerve, even in a country that has seen a horrific amount of bloodshed in the past decade: Young Iraqi girls kidnapped, repeatedly raped and then bludgeoned to death in two separate incidents near the southern city of Basra.
Despite a conviction in one case, a handful of arrests in the other and beefed up police patrols in the city, families in Basra remain on edge following the murders of 4-year-old Banin Haider and 5-year-old Abeer Ali in a span of less than two months.
Now, many parents in and around the city won't let their children go to school alone or even play outside after class is out, fearing their daughters, too, could be snatched off the streets, sexually abused and murdered. Others are making plans to leave Basra altogether, saying they have lost confidence in the security forces' ability to keep children safe.
"These inhuman crimes make me think of the safety of my children," said Hazim Sharif, 38, a government employee and father of four. "I do not trust the security forces any more. I have to protect my family by myself."