Iraqi soldiers stormed the governor’s office in the restive province of Diyala before dawn yesterday, killing his secretary and firing on local police, the governor said.
The incident in the provincial capital Baqubah, which occurred at about 2am, sparked clashes between the soldiers and local security forces, which governor Raad Rasheed Mulla Jawad said had caused casualties.
“During the night, Iraqi forces from Baghdad burst into the provincial council building,” said Jawad, whose province northeast of the capital remains one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq.
“They were hitting everyone. They disarmed the guards and killed my secretary Abbas al-Timini,” he said, adding that the soldiers also arrested Hussein al-Zubaidi, head of the provincial council’s security committee.
“They took cars, mobile phones, money and then left,” Jawad said, adding that an investigation had been launched to identify the culprits.
The US military, which has a base in Baqubah, said it was not involved in the incident, and officials from the interior and defense ministries could not be reached for immediate comment.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s human rights ministry says it wants to put on trial torturers who benefit from complete immunity despite proven cases of abuse in Iraqi prisons.
“We call on the government and judicial authorities to ensure the protection of prisoners, to punish torturers and not to include them on amnesty lists,” said Saad Sultan, head of the ministry’s prisons supervision service.
Iraq, which on Sunday announced it has ratified the UN convention against torture, has no law against the practice.
“It’s true that there is no specific law but they [torturers] could be charged for voluntary blows and injuries,” the senior official said late on Monday.
He said 121 “proven cases” of detainees — including three women — being tortured had been unearthed last year. Two-thirds of them were in interior ministry facilities and the rest in centers run by the defense ministry.
“The culprits are being investigated but this type of case takes time,” said Sultan, without reporting any arrests.
In the Western Hemisphere, thousands of Iraqi refugees have arrived in the US as part of a nationwide resettlement program to bring 12,000 Iraqis to the US by the end of next month, officials said.
About a quarter of the 9,000 Iraqi refugees already here arrived over the past month, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. Most come from secondary countries including Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.
A resettlement program run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden has received five Iraqi families in recent months — a total of 19 people — and more are expected, executive director Kevin Hickey said.
“It’s picking up,” he said.
The US government has agreed to accept 12,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of its fiscal year on Sept. 30. An additional 5,000 are being sent here under a special visa program for Iraqis who have worked with the US military, a spokesman for the US Department of State said.
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