By Kareem Raheem
Iraqi police have discovered the bodies of 18 men who were abducted from their homes and killed execution-style in a town near Baghdad, two police sources said on Friday.
The corpses were found grouped together and shot in the head in Meshahda, a predominantly Sunni Muslim area, around 32 km (20 miles) north of Baghdad, police and a source at the capital’s morgue said.
It was the deadliest in a series of execution-style killings which are on the rise in Iraq, alongside a growing insurgent campaign of bomb and gun attacks targeting security forces and civilians.
The victims were taken from their homes early on Friday by men wearing military uniforms and driving around six SUVs, the sources said. It was not clear who was behind the attack, but this area of Iraq has seen frequent abductions by militants dressed as soldiers.
The men’s families went to local police to report their relatives missing and police later found their bodies in an orchard.
This year has been Iraq’s most violent since 2006-7, when tens of thousands of people died at the height of sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shi’ites.
On Wednesday, police found the bodies of 13 people around Baghdad, the apparent victims of execution-style shootings. It did not appear that Friday’s killings were linked to those earlier in the week.
Among those killed on Friday were a police officer and an army official, the headmaster of a school and a mayor from the neighborhood. A Sunni Muslim tribal sheikh and his son were also among those shot dead.