Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says more than 50 bodies found in the river south of Baghdad in recent days are those of alleged kidnap victims from the nearby town of Madaen. But Prime Minister Iyad Allawi disputes whether such a hostage incident ever took place, citing Iraqi troops in Madean who said local residents reported no kidnappings.
U.S. officials in Iraq have not commented on the kidnapping allegations.
News reports say the corpses found in the Tigris date from varying times, possibly because insurgents and criminal gangs in the so-called "Triangle of Death" dump bodies in the river.
News of the hostage-taking has raised tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite lawmakers who are working with their Kurdish counterparts to select cabinet positions in the new government.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.