The bodies of more than 50 people have been recovered from the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/war/2003/04/08/45800.html ' target=_blank>Tigris River and have been identified, President &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/08/14/34528.html ' target=_blank>Jalal Talabani said Wednesday. He said the bodies were believed to have been those of hostages seized in a region south of Baghdad earlier this month. In a separate discovery, another 19 Iraqis were shot to death and left lined up against a bloodstained wall in a soccer stadium in the town of Haditha, about 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, an Iraqi reporter and residents said.
Talabani did not specify when or where the bodies were recovered from the Tigris. However, he gave the information in response to a question about the search for hostages reportedly seized from the area around Madain, 14 miles south of Baghdad.
Shiite leaders and government officials claimed last week that Sunni militants had abducted as many as 100 Shiite residents from the area and were threatening to kill them unless all Shiites left. But when Iraqi forces moved into the town of about 1,000 families over the weekend, they found no captives, and residents said they had seen no evidence anyone had been seized, reports ABC News.
According to the Guardian Unlimited, Shia leaders and government officials claimed last week that Sunni militants had abducted as many as 100 Shia residents from the area, but when Iraqi forces moved into Madaen, they found no captives. Later, Shia officials said that dozens of bodies had been found in the Tigris river south of Madaen, but residents and police in the area who spoke to the Reuters news agency said they had not seen any bodies.
Today Mr Talabani insisted: "It is not true that there were no hostages. There were, but they were killed and they threw the bodies into the Tigris."