BAGHDAD: Shiite militia forces executed 15 Sunnis and then hung them by electricity poles in a public square in a town northeast of Baghdad on Wednesday, police said.
A police officer at the scene in Baquba, a mixed Sunni and Shiite town 65 km from Baghdad, said he believed the action was designed to keep Sunnis from supporting the Islamic State.
The victims, who were kidnapped over the last week, were shot in their heads and chests and then hung up by cables.
“The militia forces are preventing the medical crew from bringing down the bodies hanging from the electricity poles,” he told Reuters.
“They are following a new tactic of keeping bodies hanging for a longer time to deter the Sunni population from backing the Islamic State. We asked them to let us evacuate the bodies but they refused.”
The US-funded and trained Iraqi Army unraveled in the face of the Islamic State’s sweep through the north and sectarian violence has increased since then.
Critics say Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s authoritarian and sectarian rule have alienated Sunnis, prompting some to find common cause with the group, which has blown up Shiite shrines and mosques.