BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Sixteen dead bodies were found on Thursday in a ditch in a town north of Baghdad within Iraq’s most violent province, police said.
Police said the bodies found near Muqdadiya in Diyala province, all adult males, appeared to have been killed recently. Twelve of them had been beheaded, the other four shot in the head.
Diyala Province, an ethnically- and religiously-mixed region north of Baghdad, has been the scene of the worst violence in Iraq in recent months.
U.S. forces say Sunni Arab al Qaeda militants have relocated there after being driven out of other parts of Iraq. Local groups of fighters have joined forces with U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces to combat the insurgents.
Violence in Iraq has reduced dramatically over the past several months, with the number of attacks countrywide falling by 60 percent since June, when an additional 30,000 U.S. troops were fully deployed. But Washington says al Qaeda remains a dangerous foe. An al Qaeda-linked group threatened to carry out bomb attacks earlier this month, and kidnappings and assassinations are also common.