BAGHDAD - Gunmen forced their way onto a bus of traveling Shi’ite pilgrims yesterday and shot the 22 men as they traveled through western Iraq’s remote desert on a trip to a holy shrine, security officials said.
The bodies were discovered late last night, hours after the gang of gunmen stopped the bus at a fake security checkpoint and told all the women to get off, according to one security official who interviewed a survivor.
The gunmen then drove the bus a few miles off the main highway between Baghdad and the Jordanian border in Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province.
The pilgrims were ordered off the bus and shot one by one, the security officials said.
Also yesterday, an Iraqi military spokesman said security forces arrested two men accused of kidnapping taxi drivers and dumping their bodies in a town north of Baghdad.
Major General Qassim al-Moussawi showed a taped confession of the two men on Iraqi state TV. The men claimed to be members of Islamic State of Iraq, which is linked to Al Qaeda.
In the statements, which appeared to have been edited, the suspects described a deadly scheme to raise money for terror activities.
They said they hired at least 18 taxi drivers in Baghdad to drive them to Dujail, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. Then, they said, they killed the drivers and sold the cars to help fund Al Qaeda.