BAGHDAD, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Saturday found burned remains of nine truffle collectors kidnapped and killed by Islamic State (IS) militants in the western province of Anbar, Iraqi military and a security source said.
The remains were found in a desert area in the west of the town of Rutba, some 300 km west of Anbar's provincial capital Ramadi, the media office of the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.
The victims were kidnapped and killed by IS militants while collecting truffles in the desert, the statement added.
A provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the interrogation of a captured IS militant in Anbar led to the location of the burned bodies.
Some of the victims were from Rutba or the nearby province of Karbala south of Baghdad, the source said.
Earlier this year, IS militants have either kidnapped or killed many civilians who went to desert areas to collect truffles after a rainy season.
The IS militants are still active in the vast Anbar desert that stretches to the border with neighboring countries of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.
IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.