"--IANS/EFE"
Baghdad, July 16 (IANS/EFE) More than 500 Shia prisoners have been executed by Sunni Islamic State (IS) rebels in a jail seized last month in the northern city of Mosul, the Iraqi interior ministry reported.

An interior ministry statement said the killings were discovered during an investigation carried out with the help of a prisoner who had escaped from the Badush jail.

The Iraqi allegations came after extremists and human rights groups last month denounced the execution of Sunni prisoners at the hands of government forces.

In late June, Amnesty International said it had evidence of the extrajudicial executions of dozens of Sunni prisoners by Shia troops and militias in several cities, including Mosul and Baquba, northeast of Baghdad.

According to the Iraqi statement, the former Badush inmate explained that the prison administration handed over the keys of the complex to the jihadis when they took over Mosul, the second largest city of the country, June 10.

The Sunni extremists separated the prisoners in accordance with their religious beliefs and led about 500 Shia Muslims to a field where they were shot dead.

Seventeen prisoners survived the mass execution, including 14 who were injured, the report said.

The crisis in Iraq has taken a turn for the worse since June 10, when Sunni insurgent groups took control of Mosul, the second largest city, and then progressed to other areas in the north and centre of the country.

The IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), June 29 proclaimed an Islamic caliphate extending from the Syrian province of Aleppo to Diyala in Iraq, a measure which was rejected by other rebel groups in both countries.

--IANS/EFE

ab/dg


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