The bullet-riddled bodies of 14 Sunni Arab men purportedly seized by police a week ago were found dumped in Baghdad in what appeared to be the latest bout of Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence in the capital, a top Sunni group said Saturday.
The Association of Muslim Scholars said Interior Ministry forces detained the men a week ago they were while praying at the Sunni Arab Al-Aqsa Mosque in Shula, northwestern Baghdad, and their bodies were found by relatives late Friday in the same area.
The bodies were taken to a hospital morgue to be collected by their families, the association said in a statement.
Maj. Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal, the ministry’s head of intelligence, said the 14 bodies had all been shot multiple times. He could not confirm that government forces had detained them.
“We are investigating the residents reports that these men were arrested in raids in that area but we have nothing so far,” Kamal told The Associated Press.
No further details were immediately available on the grisly find. Batches of bodies have repeatedly been discovered in various parts of Baghdad gagged, bound and shot repeatedly.
Sunni Arabs accuse Shiite-backed security forces and militias for kidnapping and killing ordinary Sunni Arabs as well as clerics. Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, a prominent Shiite leader, has denied targeting Sunni Arabs.
Saddam Hussein’s ouster led to a fall in prominence for the once powerful Sunni Arab community, from whose numbers now spawn the country’s raging anti-U.S. insurgency, which has also targeted now dominant Shiite Muslims.
Shiites, long oppressed under Saddam, now fill many layers of the country’s police and military. Prominent Shiites say they want to maintain control of the interior and defense ministries when the next government is formed, despite Sunni Arab opposition to Shiite handling of security forces.