Iraqi President Talabani speaks on 50 dead found in Tigris River

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in a press conference to reporters Wednesday was quoted saying:

"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.
… 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 promises more details in the coming days.

The presidential news conference was in response to events unfolding by reports from Shi'ite officials. They said Saturday that as many as 100 Shi’ites were taken hostage by Sunni fighters, and were threatened with death in the town of al-Madain, near Baghdad. An Iraqi security force on Monday raided the town of about 1,000 families, but found no evidence of a hostage situation. The Shi’ite officials later said the bodies — believed to be the hostages — were found in the Tigris River.

In a separate incident 200km north of Baghdad in Haditha, after hearing shots reporters and residents found the bodies of 19 men executed in a soccer stadium on Wednesday. It is believed those shot were Iraqi soldiers executed by anti-government fighters, according to an Interior Ministry official, although the victims were not dressed in military garb. They were thought to have been heading home for a holiday marking the birthday of the prophet Muhammad when abducted by insurgents.