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Iraqi Diary
The Polite Extortionists
Criminals Ravage Kirkuk's Doctors
02/13/2007 4:20 PM ET
Omar in Kirkuk reports on the worsening situation facing doctors

Doctors in Kirkuk are constantly threatened by gangs and militias. Doctors are also forced to pay ransoms to these groups more than most people in Kikruk. The armed groups often falsely claim that they will use the ransom money to finance attacks against the occupying forces. One female gynecologist, a 53 years old Sunni Turkmen from a prominent family in Kirkuk was threatened many times over the phone by someone claiming to belong to the resistance. They demanded twenty thousand dollars and warned her that if she did not pay she would be considered a traitor. She ignored the threats and a few days after the last call her clinic was attacked. The clinic was across from a church on Jumhuriya street, one of Kirkuk’s busiest streets. As the faithful were leaving the Church after prayer, the gunmen attacked her in her clinic, forcing her at gunpoint to call her husband. They gave him thirty minutes to produce twenty thousand dollars or they would shoot his wife in the head. After twenty minutes he came with the money and the gunmen left her clinic casually and thanked her for her cooperation and promised they would not allow anyone to harass any more in Kirkuk.


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