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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.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jul 16, 2005
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