Without immediate leave of US troops, violence will continue . The British army leader already said that 80% of violence is due to foreign troops .
Associated France Press (AFP) 15/11/2006
Mass kidnapping in Baghdad sparks arrests of police chiefs
BAGHDAD, Nov 14, 2006 (AFP) - Armed men in military-style uniforms seized scores of people from a Sunni-led ministry in broad daylight, stinging the Shiite-led Iraqi government into detaining five police chiefs.
The raid on a higher education ministry building in a normally peaceful area of the capital came as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki faced growing criticism from his US backers for not doing more to rein in Shiite militias with alleged links to the security forces.
The hostages seized from the ministry's scientific research institute in the middle-class neighbourhood of Karrada included visitors as well as staff, in one of the largest mass abductions of Iraq's sectarian dirty war.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh acknowledged that the mass abduction was the work of militiamen who had infiltrated the interior ministry and were carrying out "organised" killings.
Higher Education Minister Abed Dhiab al-Ujaili went on state television to describe the raid as a "terrorist act in which some 100 employees and ordinary people were kidnapped."
"A large force arrived with many vehicles with tinted windows claiming to be police commandos and they clashed with the guards and then entered the building and snatched all the employees and some visitors," Ujaili said.
Some 25 abductees were later released -- blindfolded but unharmed -- in various parts of Baghdad and the surrounding neighbourhood, a security official said.
"Most of the people kidnapped have been released," the interior ministry said in a statement.
Some of the freed hostages had earlier told police they believed only 40 of their fellow captives were still being held.
A doctor who treated some of the freed abductees told AFP they were in shock. "They had no money but they were unhurt," he said.
The higher education ministry is controlled by the National Concord Front, the Sunni Arab faction in Iraq's Shiite-led national unity government, and the authorities swiftly acknowledged that they suspected a sectarian motive in the kidnappings.
"Political groups are on the one hand involved in the political process and on the other in militia activity," the government spokesman admitted on state television.
"Militias are committing organised killing of people."
An interior ministry spokesman announced that five police chiefs had been detained over the mass abduction and "should be held responsible".
The higher education minister said academics could not work under the constant threat of sectarian attack. "They are targeting higher education to empty it," he charged.
But ministry spokesman Basil al-Khateeb said that a threatened strike by academics had been averted after the interior ministry gave assurances that police would provide extra protection around campuses.
Iraq's leading Sunni clerics' organization, the Muslim Scholars' Association, accused the Shiite-led interior ministry of responsibility for the kidnapping.
"This cowardly act confirms what we have always warned and we blame the government and the interior ministry for this crime," it said.
The abductions came a day after US Central Command chief General John Abizaid met the Iraqi prime minister for talks largely focussed on government policy towards the militias.
National Security Advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie confirmed the issue had been discussed but denied reports that the US commander had demanded tougher action.
"There is no imposition of the US military on the Iraqi government, we work with the multinational forces in the spirit of partnership," Rubaie told AFP.
Maliki has previously ordered US commanders to rein in planned operations against Shiite militia strongholds, including a proposed assault on Sadr City, Baghdad's most populous Shiite neighbourhood, where militiamen were believed to be holding an abducted US soldier.
Nearly 60 people were killed in other violence Tuesday, 10 of them in a car-bomb attack on Baghdad's busy Shorja market, while police in Baghdad also recovered 40 bullet-riddled bodies.
A car bomb near a Shiite mosque in the militia stronghold of Sadr City, killed seven people and wounded 27.
In the Sunni Arab insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of the capital, medics said they had received the bodies of 32 people who had been killed by US shelling.
The US military would only confirm the death of 11 insurgents in clashes with US forces.