BAGHDAD – Gunmen seized 21 men from two buses at a fake checkpoint in Iraq’s restive Diyala province northeast of Baghdad on Tuesday, police said.
The men were seized close to a mainly Sunni Arab town near Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Three women were allowed to leave one bus and only men were taken.
However, the U.S. military said it had not received any information about such an incident.
Details of who seized the men and where they had been taken were not immediately available. The buses were traveling south from semi-autonomous Kurdistan in Iraq’s north.
The bodies of 15 men who had been shot execution-style were found last week in Diyala, one of Iraq’s most violent provinces to where al Qaeda and other Sunni Islamist fighters have moved after security crackdowns last year.
Attacks across Iraq have fallen by 60 percent, but ethnically and religiously mixed Diyala remains a headache for U.S. and Iraqi security forces who have launched a series of operations in the area since last year.
It is one of four provinces where offensives have been launched to root out al Qaeda fighters, identified by U.S. officials as the biggest single threat to peace in Iraq.