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Bodies of 50 Former Hostages Discovered in Iraq's Tigris River

Jalal Talabani announcing that the bodies of more than 50 people have been recovered from the Tigris River and have been identified, during a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Iraq's president says the bodies of 50 people who were held hostage in recent days have been recovered from the Tigris River, and he has vowed action against the killers. Meanwhile, people in a town northwest of Baghdad reported they found 19 bullet-riddled bodies in a soccer stadium, and they believe the dead men were new Iraqi soldiers.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told reporters in Baghdad the bodies found in the river included men, women, and children. He says they were kidnapped late last week.

"Terrorists committed crimes there. It is not true to say that there were no hostages," he says. "There [were], they were killed and they [the hostage-takers] threw the bodies into the Tigris and more than 50 bodies have been brought out from the Tigris and we have the full names of those that were killed and those criminals who committed those crimes. And Mr. Prime Minister, Dr. Allawi, he is going to deal with it."

On Saturday, there were reports that about 50 people had been kidnapped in the town of Madaen. But when Iraqi forces raided the town on Monday they found no evidence of any kidnapping or hostages being held.

Meanwhile, about 200 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, local residents in the town of Haditha said they found the bodies of 19 Iraqi soldiers, who had been shot to death in a soccer stadium. The soldiers are believed to have been kidnapped by insurgents while they were on their way home to celebrate a Muslim holiday this week.

There were also several car bombings in Iraq on Wednesday - three of them in Baghdad and two outside a U.S. and Iraqi military base in the town of Ramadi. Several people were killed in the bombings.

The gruesome developments come as Iraq's government is expected to be installed on Thursday. The parliament chose top leaders earlier this month, but the full cabinet has not yet been announced. President Talibani said he expects that to happen on Thursday.