January 22, 2008 / 3:44 PM / in 11 years

Bodies of seven family members found in Iraq orchard

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces found the bodies of seven family members on Tuesday, all bearing signs of torture and shot execution-style, as they hunted al Qaeda fighters outside Iraq’s volatile city of Baquba, police said.

Police said the bodies were those of a father and his five sons as well as a nephew. The bodies, found in an orchard, had been identified by other family members, they said.

Diyala province, of which Baquba is the capital, has replaced western Anbar as one of the most violent areas of Iraq after Sunni Islamist al Qaeda was driven out of Anbar and the Baghdad area during security crackdowns last year.

While attacks, including suicide bombings which are most often blamed on al Qaeda, are common throughout Diyala, Tuesday’s discovery was particularly gruesome and unusual because of the large number of family members involved.

Police said there was no information immediately available about the victims or why they were killed other than that al Qaeda were thought to be responsible.

The bodies were found lying uncovered as police moved through date palm groves and orange orchards outside the town of Buhriz, just outside Baquba, some 60 km (45 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

Diyala is one of four northern provinces where U.S. and Iraqi forces have been carrying out a series of offensives against al Qaeda in Iraq.

Writing by Paul Tait; Editing by Jon Boyle

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