Baghdad: Iraqi security forces Wednesday found some 50 bodies in the south of Babil province, a provincial police source said.

The bodies were found dumped at an orchard near the Shia town of Hamza, just south of provincial capital Hilla, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The dead were blindfolded and handcuffed and had bullet holes in their heads and chests, the source said, adding that the authorities have launched an investigation into the mass killing.

The sectarian mixed province of Babil has been part of the battleground in the unfolding Sunni insurgency against the Shia-led Iraqi government.

The area north of Hilla was known as the “Triangle of Death” during the US-led occupation of Iraq for its extreme levels of violence.

Iraq has been struggling with some of the worst violence in years. About a month ago, armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by the militant Al Qaeda breakaway group, the Islamic State, launched a surprise offensive on Iraqi security forces.

The insurgents quickly captured a large chunk of the country’s northern and western territories as Iraqi troops fled abandoning their posts and military equipment.

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