BAGHDAD - Iraqi police on Thursday found the bodies of 36 men executed with a bullet to the head and dumped in a stream south of Baghdad, an interior ministry source said.
"Thirty-six bodies of men aged 25 to 35 ... all shot in the head, were found dumped in a stream in Oraida, 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of Kut," 175 kilometres (110 miles) south of Baghdad, said the source.
The decomposing bodies, all wearing civilian clothes, were thought to have been dead around five days and had their hands bound or handcuffed, he added.
Meanwhile, gunmen shot dead two bodyguards of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and wounded seven others in an attack north of Baghdad on Thursday, police said.
"Two bodyguards of the president were killed and seven others wounded when their convoy was riddled with bullets by gunmen," said Colonel Abbas Mohammed, police chief of the city of Tuz Khurmatu.
The attack took place at around midday (0800 GMT) in Al-Odhaim area, 120 kilometres (75 miles) northeast of Baghdad.
Talabani, a Kurd, "was not in the convoy which was coming from Kirkuk to Baghdad," Mohammed said, adding that US forces and Kurdish security forces were hunting for the gunmen.
Insurgents have carried out a number of attacks on Kurdish leaders while passing through Al-Odhaim, a restive Sunni Arab bastion, while on the way to northern Kuridstan.
On August 15, the family of Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi, a Shiite, was also shot at by masked gunmen near Al-Odhaim.
On Wednesday Iraq's deputy justice minister, Bosho Ibrahim, a Kurd, survived an assassination attempt in Baghdad. Four of his bodyguards were killed in the attack, the second to target him in as many days.
In other violence, gunmen shot dead six Iraqi civilians and injured another six in an attack near in the restive town of Baquba north of Baghdad on Thursday, police said.
The shooting occurred in Abu Saida, just to the north of the mostly Sunni town of Baquba.
In the northern oil centre of Kirkuk, five people including Iraqi military personnel were injured when a homemade bomb exploded, police said.
On Wednesday, a total of 35 people were killed in violence across Iraq, including 15 in a fierce gunfight in Baghdad between rebels and security forces following a car bomb blast against a police patrol.