Iraq begins inquiry and arrests policemen over mass kidnapping

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Iraq begins inquiry and arrests policemen over mass kidnapping

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Iraq´s government says it has begun an inquiry into the kidnapping of dozens of people from an Higher Education Ministry building in Baghdad. Some witnesses claimed gunmen in police uniforms stormed the building and rounded up Sunni employees, guards and visitors, as police patrols looked on. It is claimed the gunmen said they were from the Interior Ministry.

There are reports five senior police officers have been arrested. A spokesman said officials are questioning other police in the district. He said a number of hostages have already been released, claiming they had been taken to a Shi’ite militia stronghold in the capital.

The kidnapping came in a day of violence around the country. In Mosul, eleven civilians were shot dead in a series of attacks by armed gunmen. In the Al-Dubat district of Ramadi, a Sunni stronghold, at least 30 people were killed in an unconfirmed US raid.

An anonymous police source said an operation involving tanks left dead civilians lying in the street and several houses destroyed. Iraqi officials said another US raid took place overnight in Shula, a Shi’ite enclave in the capital. They said six people died and 13 others were wounded in an air strike following clashes between soldiers and supporters of a Shi’ite cleric.

In the past months, US soldiers have carried out a number of raids, searching for militants suspected of carrying out sectarian attacks. The Shi’ite Iraqi Prime Minister is under pressure to stop the violence. But he says he needs time to build consensus between opposing forces in his coalition.