Government officials said that at least 52 other people died violent deaths or were found dead around Iraq on Saturday, five of them decapitated Iraqi soldiers.

The mass kidnapping and killing south of Baghdad on Saturday night occurred near the volatile town of Latifiyah, about 30km south of Baghdad in the so-called Triangle of Death.

In Baghdad, eight people died and at last 38 were wounded when two bombs hidden under parked cars exploded among midday shoppers in downtown Baghdad's Hafidh al-Qadhi square.

Police and medical workers said at least 38 others were injured in the explosion at the formerly bustling area on the eastern bank of the Tigris River.

Thayer Mahmud, a police lieutenant, said his men found 25 corpses dumped in several parts of the capital in the 24 hours than began at 6 pm on Friday.

A Samarra police captain, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution, said the city morgue had received the beheaded bodies five soldiers who were kidnapped last week in Meshahda area, 30km north of the capital.