BAGHDAD -- Police said yesterday they had found the bodies of 65 men who had been tortured, shot and dumped, most around Baghdad, while car bombs and mortar attacks killed at least 39 people and wounded dozens more.
The U.S. military said it could not confirm all the execution-style killings and said the numbers they had for the bodies was lower than that reported by police.
"It is looking like about a 50-per-cent discrepancy on execution-style killings so far," said Major Josslyn Aberle, chief of the media relations division for the Multi-National Corps-Iraq.
The reason for the difference was not immediately clear. Counts by the U.S. military often lag behind those of the police, but the confusion also underscores the difficulty of obtaining accurate death tolls in Iraq, which lacks the reporting and tracking systems of most countries.
Police said 60 of the bodies were found overnight scattered around Baghdad, with the majority dumped in predominantly Sunni neighbourhoods.
All the bodies were bound, bore signs of torture and had been shot, according to police Lieutenant Thayer Mahmoud. Such killings are usually the work of death squads, operated by both Sunni and Shia gangs and militias that kidnap people and usually torture them with power drills or beat them badly before shooting them.
The head of Iraq's largest Sunni political bloc called for Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to honour a pledge to disband the militias. Sunnis blame Shia groups for equipping many of the death squads.
"We hope the government carries out what it pledged and disbands militias and considers them terrorist organizations," said Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Accordance Front, which holds 44 seats in the 275-member parliament.
According to police, 45 of the bodies were discovered in predominantly Sunni parts of western Baghdad. The rest were found in predominantly Shia areas of eastern Baghdad. Another five bodies were found floating in the Tigris River in Suwayrah, 40 kilometres south of Baghdad, according to Lt. Mohammed al-Shimari.
In the capital, police said a car bomb killed at least 19 people and wounded more than 62 after it detonated in a large square used mostly as a parking lot near the main headquarters of Baghdad's traffic police department. The U.S. military reported the death toll at 15 killed and 25 wounded.
In eastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said a parked-car bomb exploded next to a passing Iraqi police patrol in the Zayona neighbourhood, killing at least 12 people and wounding 34. That number was higher than the eight originally reported by Iraqi police.
Using the two figures supplied by the military, the overall count would drop to at least 31 killed.
The attacks came one day after attacks claimed the lives of at least two dozen people across Iraq. Baghdad has been the focus of most violence, and thousands of U.S. and Iraqi forces are taking part in a security crackdown aimed to curtail some of the killing. According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, an average of 51 people a day died violently last month in the capital.
Separately, no headway was made yesterday on the most contentious issue facing Iraq's parliament since it reconvened last week from summer recess: legislation that will set in place the mechanism for establishing autonomous regions as part of a federal Iraq.
Sunnis have said the bill could split the country into three distinct sectarian and ethnic cantons and have vehemently opposed it.