It was supposed to be a routine job, police say. Move 69 prisoners from an outlying town to a jail in southern Baghdad. But before they arrived at their destination, every single prisoner had been killed.
The official account given hours after the killing on Monday by the governor of Hilla, 92km (57 miles) south of Baghdad, was that militants had attacked the convoy killing 10 prisoners and one policeman in the crossfire.
"The convoy protection force fiercely responded to the terrorist attack," Governor Sadiq Madloul told reporters.
But a police captain, a second police officer and a senior local official from where the prisoners died in Hilla, all speaking on condition of anonymity while giving an account that differed from the official line, told Reuters no attack took place, and the police had executed the 69 men.
A third police source who would not contradict the account that the convoy had come under attack nevertheless confirmed that all 69 had been killed and said some had not died in the crossfire but were gunned down to prevent them from escaping.