IRAQ - July 12 - Sunni Workers Suffocate In Iraqi Police Custody.
Sunni leaders accuse the Iraqi government of sectarian abuse
following the suffocation of nine Sunni construction workers in police
custody. "The government is to blame for this incident. The
Ministry of Interior is working on a sectarian basis", Hamidal
Khazraji, an Association of Muslim Scholars official, said. Police
commandos locked at least 11 men, from the Sunni Arab Zobaa tribe,
inside a metal container on July 11 after arresting them at a hospital
near Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, on alleged suspicion of insurgent activities. According to Khazraji, the men had been visiting a relative
at the hospital after he was wounded by gunfire from US troops. Police,
apparently concerned about tribesmen gathering at the hospital, made the
arrests and left the men in the container for 14 hours. By nightfall,
eight of the men had suffocated, police said. One more died soon
afterwards, while two remained alive but were in critical condition,
Khazraji said. The victims came from the same tribe as Harith al-Dari,
secretary general of the Association of Muslim Scholars and a critic of
the Shiite- led police commandos. The association, an influential Sunni
organisation, is often seen as a link between moderate Sunni Arabs
involved in Iraq's Shiite- and Kurdish-dominated political process
and those who support the anti-government and anti-US insurgency.
Saadoun Al Duleimi, the Iraqi minister of defence, said that Baghdad had
built up sufficient capacity for training its security forces and would
have no reason to rely on neighbouring Iran, a former enemy, for help.
He appeared to backtrack on statements made in Tehran last week at a
joint press conference with Admiral Ali Shamkhani, his Iranian
counterpart, indicating that Iran would soon help train Iraqi troops.