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BAGHDAD (AP) — A spokesman for the Iraqi military says security forces have found the bodies of eight people taken hostage by the Islamic State group earlier this month.

The kidnappings drew national attention amid worries about the lingering threat by IS militants. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadadi said Tuesday the military had formed a special cell to follow kidnapping cases.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool says the bodies were found with gunshot wounds in their chests and heads on Wednesday. He tells The Associated Press the bodies were found near a highway where IS claimed it had kidnapped 17 police and militiamen 2 weeks ago.

Six of the hostages appeared in a video put out by the group demanding the release of all Sunni women prisoners in Iraqi jails.