(Refiles to amend headline)
MOSUL, Iraq May 11 Militants in northern Iraq
ambushed an army convoy and abducted at least 20 soldiers before
shooting them in the head, army officials said on Sunday, the
deadliest yet in a growing series of execution-style attacks in
The ambush took place on Saturday near Ain al-Jahash in the
northern province of Nineveh, one of the most unstable regions
in Iraq and through which a long section of pipeline runs on its
course from the Kirkuk oilfields to neighboring Turkey.
Security officials said militants disguised as soldiers and
driving army vehicles, presumably seized in previous attacks,
had ambushed the convoy and abducted the conscripts, killing
them en masse hours later.
"The soldiers were taken by surprise and realised too late
that the humvees were driven by terrorists rather than their
colleagues," said one army officer from the same brigade as the
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the
killings, but insurgents including the Islamic State in Iraq and
the Levant (ISIL) have a firm presence in Nineveh, which borders
"All the soldiers' bodies bore bullet wounds to the head...
they were all executed and this is the hallmark of ISIL groups,"
said an army officer in Mosul. Two other officers also blamed
The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has been idled for more than two
months since insurgents bombed it in Ain al-Jahash. Technicians
sent to fix the damage have been attacked and killed, putting
repair work on hold.
This outage is the longest in decades and has held back oil
(Reporting by Ziad al-Sanjary in Mosul; Writing by Ahmed
Rasheed; Editing by Isabel Coles and Raissa Kasolowsky)