An al-Qa'ida-affiliated group said it killed 18 kidnapped Iraqi government security forces yesterday in retaliation for the alleged rape of a Sunni woman by members of the Shia-dominated police, posting an online video of the officers being shot in the back of their heads while kneeling in a field.The authenticity of the three-minute video, posted on a website previously used by the Islamic State of Iraq, could not be immediately verified.
The group also said it had killed 14 policemen, whose bodies were found at the weekend in the northeast province of Diyala, in retaliation for the alleged rape. Some of the victims were decapitated.
The execution video released at the weekend first depicts the 18 men, some in Iraqi military uniforms, blindfolded, hands tied behind their backs and lined up in three rows before a screen. The men in the front row are kneeling. Masked men point machine guns at the captives.
Two militants, with checked scarves on their heads, then fire handguns at close range into the backs of the men's heads, while a third militant carries a black banner ahead of them. As they are shot, the victims fall, head forward to the ground. The shooting is accompanied by chants of "Allahu Akbar" (God is the greatest). "At your service, sister" is chanted repeatedly in a likely reference to the revenge for the allegedly raped Sunni woman.
Another male voice is heard saying the Islamic State of Iraq had ordered the 18 security troops executed because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Government had failed to meet the group's demands to hand over the officers who allegedly raped the woman in Baghdad last month, and to release all Sunni women detainees from Iraqi prisons.
A 20-year-old woman had told Arab television stations that she was detained in a Sunni area of west Baghdad on February 18, taken to a police garrison and assaulted by three officers. The woman gave a name which identified her as Sunni.
Mr Maliki, a Shia, announced an investigation but cleared the officers the following day, stirring outrage among Sunni politicians. Mr Maliki said the rape claim was fabricated to tarnish the reputation of the police and the security crackdown in Baghdad.