Scores of Bodies Found in Tigris River; 19 Executed in Separate Killing
President Jalal Talabani, who announced the grizzly discovery, said the bodies in the river had been identified.
“We have the full names of those who were killed and those criminals who committed the crimes,” he said at a news briefing.
Last week, Shiite leaders and government officials claimed that Sunni militants had abducted 100 Shiite residents from Madain, though Iraqi authorities were unable to verify the abductions, the AP reported.
In a separate incident about 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, the bodies of 19 Iraqis were discovered lined up execution-style against a bloodstained wall in a soccer stadium in the town of Haditha. Two Iraqi taxi drivers who found the bodies and residents said all 19, dressed in civilian clothes, appeared to have been shot, according to the AP.
U.S. military forces had no report of the incident but were investigating, 1st Lt. Kate VandenBossche of the U.S. 2nd Marine Division told the AP.
The disclosure of the massacres came the same day Iraqi officials announced they expect to name a new government by Thursday.
“We want to announce it as soon as possible,” Talabani told reporters after meeting with newly appointed Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and other officials. “We are hoping it will happen tomorrow afternoon.”
Despite efforts to build a post-election government, violence continued throughout the country Wednesday. Three suicide car bombings and several shootings left at least seven Iraqis dead. The bombings came after Tuesday’s killing of two U.S. soldiers by insurgents near an American patrol in southern Baghdad. The bomb wounded four other soldiers, a U.S. military spokesman said.
Wednesday’s discoveries are the latest evidence of an increase in violence in Iraq over the past few weeks, a turn-around from what some believed was the ebb of the two-year-old insurgency since elections in January.
Though some 400 Iraqi police and soldiers have been killed by insurgents since February, the U.S. military reported a decrease in attacks against U.S. forces by 20 percent since March and the Iraqi government reported capturing several senior militant leaders.
But the April violence has shaken hopes for an end to the insurgency.
“I don’t think the insurgency has gone away at all,” one U.S. military official in Baghdad who did not want to give his name told Reuters. “Perhaps we just had a spike in success against it.”
Some have blamed the renewed violence on Jaafari’s failure to form a new government. In the 80 days since Iraq’s election a cabinet has yet to be named.
“All this talking and deliberating over the government isn’t helping when it comes to taking on the insurgency,” Interior Ministry Advisor Sabah Kadhim told Reuters recently. “We were having some successes against them… But now it isn’t clear if the new government will follow the same policies, and that could have an impact on our effectiveness.”