Iraqi security forces found the bodies of 53 men, all of them blindfolded and with their hands bound, in an agricultural area outside a city south of Baghdad on Wednesday, officials said.
The bodies were found in the predominantly Shiite village of Khamissiya outside the city of Hilla, which is located some 95 kilometres (60 miles) south of the capital in the Babil province, with gunshots to the chest and head.
“Fifty-three unidentified corpses were found, all of them blindfolded and handcuffed,” Sadeq Madloul, governor of the mainly Shiite Babil province, told reporters.
He said the victims appeared to have been killed overnight after being brought by car to an area near the main highway running from Baghdad to the southern provinces, about 25 km (15 miles) southeast of Hilla.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim told the AP news agency an investigation was reportedly underway to determine the identities of the dead as well as the circumstances of the killings.
Although the motive for the killings was not immediately clear, they were reminiscent of the sectarian bloodletting that gripped Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
Tensions between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni minority have been at a high ever since militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS or ISIL) and other Sunni groups launched a lightning offensive last month, overrunning large parts of the country’s north and west.
Although there has been little violence in the area where the bodies were dumped in recent weeks, north of Hillah is a deeply divided region that became known as the “Triangle of Death” for the ferocity of its sectarian violence in the years after the US-led invasion of 2003.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-07-09