12 bodies found north of Baghdad as insurgents turn on each other

BAGHDAD: Residents of a town north of Baghdad found 12 corpses with execution-style bullet wounds on Monday, after fighting between rival insurgent groups that could eventually unravel the coalition that seized much of the north and west of the country.The incident points to an intensification of infighting between the Islamic State and other groups, such as supporters of former dictator Saddam Hussein, which rallied behind the al Qaeda offshoot last month because of shared hatred for the Shia-led government in Baghdad.Police in Muqdadiya, a town 80 km (50 miles) northeast of the capital, said residents from the nearby town of Saadiya found the 12 corpses on Monday after intense fighting overnight between Islamic State fighters and the Naqshbandi Army, a group led by Saddam allies.Since the Islamic State swept through Iraqi cities and proclaimed its leader caliph of all Muslims last month, there have been increasing signs of conflict with other groups who do not necessarily share the al Qaeda offshoot’s rejection of Iraq’s borders or its severe interpretation of Islam. Washington, which recruited other fighters to defeat al Qaeda during the US surge offensive in 2006-2007, hopes other Sunnis will again turn against the Islamic State and can be lured back into a power-sharing government in Baghdad.The White House has pressed for an inclusive government in Baghdad, but so far Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ignored calls from Sunnis and Kurds to step down in favour of a less polarising figure who would allow Sunnis a greater voice.Saadiya, a mostly Sunni town, was overrun by Islamic State militants on June 10, the same day the city of Mosul fell to the insurgents. It is located in Diyala, a mainly rural province north of Baghdad where lush irrigated fields have long sheltered armed groups that resent the arrival of outsiders.Residents say the town is a stronghold of Naqshbandi Army fighters who supported the Islamic State when it first swept into the area, but have since clashed with the group.A doctor in the Baquba morgue, where the corpses were taken, said the men all bore bullet wounds to their heads and chest, though there was no sign of torture. He said the men had been dead no more than 24 hours.The people who found the bodies said the men were Naqshbandi fighters in their 20s and 30s, and blamed the Islamic State for the execution-style killings. The Saadiya residents brought the corpses to police in Muqdadiya because the police in their town fled on June 10 when the insurgents swept in.Local government official Ahmad al-Zarghosi, who also fled, told Reuters that he estimated 90 percent of the town had fled north. Zarghosi, speaking from the town of Khanaqin, said fighting had been raging for a week between Naqshbandi locals and the Islamic State militants. 

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