A U.S. general says Iraqi investigators have broken up a ring of police officers who were kidnapping people, extorting ransoms and sometimes killing their victims.
In an interview with the USA Today newspaper, Major General Joseph Peterson said the unit is alleged to have operated in northern Baghdad, under the command of an Iraqi police general.
General Peterson said the police general, who was not identified, was arrested and then released last month. He is said to remain under investigation. He said 17 others linked to the alleged ring remain in custody.
Allegations of Iraqi police death squads operating in Iraq's Shi'ite-dominated security forces have circulated widely in recent weeks.
Hundreds of bodies - many of them showing signs of torture - have turned up in and around the capital since the February 22 bombing of a major Shi'ite shrine near Baghdad.