Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bodies of 50 Hostages Found in Iraq

Yahoo! News
Bodies of 50 Hostages Found in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The bodies of 50 people, believed to be those of hostages held in a town near Baghdad earlier this week, have been found in the Tigris river south of Baghdad, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Wednesday.

"More than 50 bodies have been brought out from the Tigris and we have the full names of those who were killed and those criminals who committed these crimes," Talabani told reporters.

"We will give you details in the coming days ... terrorists committed crimes there. It is not true that there were no hostages. There were, but they were killed and they threw the bodies into the Tigris," he said.

Shi'ite officials said last Saturday that around 50 people had been taken hostage by Sunni militants in the town of Madaen, south of Baghdad, and were threatened with death.

Iraqi security forces raided the town earlier this week, but said they had found next to no evidence that anyone had been taken hostage or that there were any gunmen in the town.

Later, Shi'ite officials said that dozens of bodies had been found in the Tigris south of Madaen, but residents and police in the area who spoke to Reuters said they hadn't seen any bodies.

Talabani made his announcement at a news conference shortly after a meeting with Iraq's new prime minister and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of Shi'ite political party SCIRI, one of the sources for the information on the Madaen hostages.

Talabani said details of the number of people who had been killed and their names would be announced in the coming days.