Twenty-two Shi'ite pilgrims have been found shot dead in a remote desert area of western Iraq.
Security officials said the pilgrims, all men, were shot at a checkpoint set up by the gunmen in Anbar Province on September 12.
The attack took place in Nukhaib, about 200 kilometers west of the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala, which lies south of Baghdad.
The women, children, and elderly were spared.
The pilgrims were said to be from Karbala and were traveling to Syria.
Police have launched a manhunt for the gunmen, whom authorities suspect were Al-Qaeda militants.
Anbar Province was home to the Sunni Islamist insurgency after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But since 2006, the insurgency was dealt a blow when Sunni tribal chiefs joined forces with the U.S. military.
compiled from agency reports