BAGHDAD Children discovered the handcuffed and blindfolded corpses of 10 unidentified young men in eastern Baghdad on Thursday, apparently killed by gunshots to the head, Iraqi police said.
Police said residents told them unusual vehicle movements to and from an abandoned building in the area had caught the attention of the children, who waited until the cars had left to investigate.
"Several kids climbed over the wall of the building to enter and they found the 10 bodies inside one of its rooms," said a police officer involved in the investigation.
It was not clear who was behind the killings.
The civil war in neighboring Syria, which has brought sectarian tensions to the boil across the Middle East, has invigorated Sunni insurgents in Iraq who are also exploiting general discontent in the minority Sunni population.
Iraq has also witnessed several incidents suggesting that Shi'ite militias, which have so far stayed out of the violence, may once again be getting involved.
A further 10 people were killed on Thursday in two roadside bombings: one inside a market in Abu Ghraib, west Baghdad, and the second near a fridge repair shop in al-Nasr wal-Salam, around 15 km east of Falluja city, where eight people died.
"When it exploded we saw some people killed, most of them women," 42-year-old clothes shop owner Ayad Mohammed said of the al-Nasr wal-Salam attack. "Ambulances couldn't come near the scene, so we carried the wounded people to the main street."
Around 800 Iraqis were killed in acts of violence in August, with Baghdad the worst affected governorate, according to the United Nations.
Intensifying violence has raised concerns of a return to wider conflict in a country where Shi'ite Muslims, Sunnis and ethnic Kurds have yet to find a stable way of sharing power.
"The recent escalation of violence all over Iraq is extremely worrying and jeopardizes efforts at political reconciliation," acting U.N. envoy to Iraq Gyorgy Busztin said in a statement.
"The authorities should do their utmost to ensure that measures are put in place to stop the bloodshed."
(Reporting by Kareem Raheem; Writing by Suadad al-Salhy; Editing by Isabel Coles and Alison Williams)