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Iraq | International

Kurdish Politicians Sanction Kirkuk Abductions
by sources
Wednesday Jun 15th, 2005 9:03 AM
A leading American newspaper says police and security forces in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk have abducted hundreds of Arabs and Turkmens - sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces in the region.
Citing U.S. government documents and victims' families, the Washington Post said the men have been abducted in raids led by Kurdish political parties and the detainees transferred secretly to prisons in Kurdish cities in northern Iraq.

The newspaper says it has obtained a confidential U.S. State Department cable addressed to the White House, the Defense Department and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that raises concern about the unlawful detentions and transfers.

Kirkuk is claimed by three Iraqi ethnic groups - Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens. There has been a sharp rise of violence and tension in the oil-rich city in recent months
http://www.voanews.com/english/2005-06-15-voa11.cfm

Kirkuk, Iraq -- Police and security units, led by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S. military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and Turkomans in this intensely volatile city and spirited them to prisons in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, government documents and families of the victims.

Seized off the streets of Kirkuk or in joint U.S.-Iraqi raids, the men have been transferred secretly and in violation of Iraqi law to prisons in the Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniya, sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces.

The detainees, including merchants, members of tribal families and soldiers, have often remained missing for months; some have been tortured, according to released prisoners and the Kirkuk police chief.

A confidential June 5 State Department cable, obtained by the Washington Post and addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the "extra-judicial detentions" were part of a "concerted and widespread initiative" by Kurdish political parties "to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner."

The abductions came to light as violence racked Kirkuk, as a suicide bomber blew himself up Tuesday in a crowd of retirees lining up to receive their pensions. At least 22 people were killed and 80 injured, including women and children, police and hospital officials said.

Kirkuk, a city of almost 1 million that sits atop some of Iraq's richest oil fields, is home to Iraq's most combustible mix of politics and economic power. Kurds, who are just shy of a majority in the city's and are growing in number, hope to make Kirkuk part of an autonomous Kurdistan.

Arabs -- both Shiites and Sunnis -- and Turkomans compose most of the rest of the population. They have struck an alliance to curb the ambitions of the Kurds, who have wielded increasing authority in a long-standing collaboration with their U.S. allies.

The question of who will administer the city is expected to be one of the most contentious issues during the writing of the permanent constitution, and analysts say Kirkuk could descend into large-scale civil strife if political solutions are not carefully laid out.

Read More
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/06/15/MNGCJD8JNI1.DTL

The Washington Post reported today that "Police and security units, forces led by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S. military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and Turkmens in this intensely volatile city and spirited them to prisons in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, government documents and families of the victims."

The Washington Post report said "Seized off the streets of Kirkuk or in joint U.S.-Iraqi raids, the men have been transferred secretly and in violation of Iraqi law to prisons in the Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah, sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces. The detainees, including merchants, members of tribal families and soldiers, have often remained missing for months; some have been tortured, according to released prisoners and the Kirkuk police chief."

The report said "A confidential State Department cable, obtained by The Washington Post and addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the 'extra-judicial detentions' were part of a 'concerted and widespread initiative' by Kurdish political parties 'to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner.'"

The Washington Post report quotes the US document as saying: The abductions have "greatly exacerbated tensions along purely ethnic lines."

Abdel-Rahman, the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk province, said he was "concerned that the Americans were being duped by the Kurds, who he said have cloaked what is effectively a power grab as a crackdown on the insurgents. Their strategy, he said, is to bolster their alliance with the Americans," The Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post report quotes a man whose two sons had been seized where one of them was turtured and the other his status unknown "Tomorrow, I could recruit the entire tribe..I could block the street in Kirkuk and kidnap 40 Kurds. When you lose patience, you can do anything."

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/050615/2005061543.html