The bodies of 14 policemen were found northeast of Baghdad after an al-Qaida-affilated Sunni group said it abducted members of a government security force in retaliation for the rape of a Sunni woman by members of the Shiite-dominated police.
The brutal killing occurred in one of the provinces surrounding Baghdad, where violence remains high despite a sharp drop in bombings and sectarian killings in the capital since the start of the US-led security crackdown last month.
Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said the bodies were discovered Friday afternoon in Diyala province. The policemen were kidnapped Thursday on their way to their homes in Diyala for leave, he said.
Earlier Friday, the Islamic State of Iraq said in a Web statement that it seized 18 Interior Ministry employees in Diyala in retaliation for "the crimes carried out ... against the Sunnis," including the alleged rape last month of a Sunni woman by policemen in Baghdad.