BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi police on Sunday dug up the bodies of 20 men who were found bound, blindfolded and shot in the head in shallow graves east of Baghdad (search), while eight more bodies were found in the Iraqi capital.
Lt. Ayad Ottoman said a shepherd found the bodies of 20 men Friday in the Nahrawan (search) desert region, 20 miles east of Baghdad.
"All were blindfolded and their hands were tied behind their backs and shot from behind," Ottoman said. "The assassins excavated a hole and buried them inside it and seven were found naked."
Witnesses claimed the slain men were Sunni Muslims (search), according to a statement from the influential Sunni Muslim organization, the Association of Muslim Scholars. No details were provided to back up the claim but the association launched an investigation.
Eight other slain men were found shot in the head Sunday in two different locations in Baghdad's northern suburb of Shula, police Capt. Majed Abdul Aziz said. The bodies could not immediately be identified.
The grisly discoveries followed the slayings of 21 men near the Syrian border down of Qaim. Their dumped bodies were found Friday in three separate locations in the lawless region, 200 miles west of Baghdad.
It was feared that the bodies may have been those of Iraqi soldiers who went missing Wednesday after leaving their base in Akashat, a remote village near the Syrian border, southwest of Qaim, in a bus bound for Baghdad.
Last month, multiple batches of bodies turned up in various locations across Iraq. Many were killed in apparent tit-for-tat slayings that raised fears Iraq was verging on descending into a civil war.