The bodies of four people who had been kidnapped by gunmen disguised in military uniform from a village in Diyala province overnight were found in execution-style on Thursday morning, a provincial police source said, Xinhua reported.
At about 1:00 a.m. (2200 GMT Wednesday), armed men wearing Iraqi army uniform stormed houses in the al-Khukafaa village at the rural area of Edhiem, some 60 km north of the provincial capital city of Baquba, and took four male villagers as detainees, two of whom are members of the local Awakening Council group, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
In the morning, when the residents of the village came to see their sons in a military base, the Iraqi army and police denied that there was any operation for their troops during the past hours, the source said.
Iraqi security forces and many volunteers from the village carried out a search operation in the open area outside the village and found the bodies of the two Awakening Council group members.
Several hours later they found the bodies of the other two people elsewhere in the area, the source added.
The four victims were found handcuffed and blindfolded with bullet holes in different parts of the bodies, the source said.
The Awakening Council group consists of armed groups, including some powerful once-anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups, who fought the al-Qaida network after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.
Diyala province, which stretches from the eastern edges of Baghdad to the Iranian border east of the country, has long been a stronghold for al-Qaida militants and other insurgent groups since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite repeated U.S. and Iraqi military operations against them.