Iraqi authorities said they found on Friday the bodies of 18 men kidnapped hours earlier by gunmen in army uniforms driving vehicles that might have been disguised to look like military transportation.
Reports said all 18 victims had been shot execution-style in the head and chest shortly after their capture. Their bodies were found in an orchard or farm near the towns of Meshahda and Tarmiyah.
Officials said the dead included two tribal leaders, four policemen and a major in the army, Agence France-Presse reported.
It was the deadliest in a series of execution-style killings that are on the rise in Iraq, and is reminiscent of the country's 2006-07 sectarian warfare when Shia and Sunni Muslim death squads took to the streets and pulled people from their homes.
The victims, all men, were taken from their homes late Thursday night by men in military uniforms driving roughly six SUVs. No one has taken responsibility for the attack, but the area of Iraq where the kidnapping occurred has seen frequent abductions by militants dressed as soldiers.
The families of the 18 men went to local police to report them missing, and police later found them in the orchard.
Police found another 13 bodies in areas around Baghdad earlier this week.
Violence has been increasing in Iraq in recent months since there was a deadly security crackdown in April on a Sunni protest camp north of Baghdad. Since then, more than 5,500 people have been killed.
In all, 52 people were killed in recent days, AFP reported.
Officials confirmed to AFP that bombings and executions caused most of the casualties.
Other gruesome killings around the capital included seven men, mostly laborers, having their throats cut near a soccer field.
The bodies of three women were found east of Baghdad. They were tortured before being shot, AFP said.
Someone attacked a brothel, killing six, and others were killed when a bomb exploded near a soccer field.
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