MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) – Iraqi authorities have arrested 13 policemen for carrying out a massacre of 70 Sunni Arabs in a northern Iraqi town to avenge a devastating bomb attack, officials said on Thursday.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber blew up a truck in a Shiite district of Tal Afar — a town rated in 2006 by US President George W. Bush as a symbol of a stable Iraq — and killed 85 people and wounded 183 others.
A few hours after the blast, dozens of armed men, some wearing police uniforms according to witnesss, went on a rampage in a Sunni district, dragged men out of their homes and shot them with bullets to the head.
At least 70 people were killed, while 30 were wounded and 40 more remain missing in one of the worst sectarian attacks in Iraq in recent months.
An Iraqi army source told AFP that 13 policemen have been detained for the mass killings.
More than 50 bodies of the executed victims have been moved to a hospital Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province which is home to Tal Afar, along with two ambulances ferrying women who were wounded in the rampage.
A doctor at Al-Jumhuri hospital said the bodies of the victims, including elderly men and teenagers, were handcuffed and had been shot in the head.
A doctor travelling with the bodies said they had been brought to Mosul to get death certificates, accusing the Shiite-dominated hospital authorities in Tal Afar of refusing to provide adequate certification.
Dozens of residents in the mixed Sunni-Shiite town overnight demanded the release of the detained policemen, whom they said were Shiites.
Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has launched an investigation into the sectarian killings.