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Diyala Detainees Top 800, Source Says
"Wanted" or "Suspect"? Controversy Emerging over Scope of Detentions
08/22/2008 2:01 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

The number of detainees held by security forces in recent operations in Iraq’s Diyala Province has topped 800, according to a security source, and a controversy is brewing in the province over the scope of the arrests.

An official security source in Diyala Province said that 40 percent of those detained were not wanted individuals, but were detained as “suspects,” Newsmatique writes in Arabic.

Commanders had earlier announced that operations were targeting only wanted individuals, but the statement of the Iraqi security source suggests that hundreds of Iraqis have been swept up in arrests without having been identified as wanted by security forces.

The security source added that “the number those detained by the Ministries of Defense and Interior in all of Diyala Province exceeds 800 people, the majority of whom are held in the principal headquarters of the Fifth Division, near the al-Quds Interchange.”

Located near a complex of American and Iraqi bases, al-Quds Interchange is a large traffic exchange about five miles northwest of Ba'qouba city, the administrative center of Diyala Province.

The security source mentioned that 40 detainees were released 10 days ago, after investigating agencies cleared their files. The coming weeks “will see further releases of those whose innocence can be proven after investigations,” the source told Newsmatique. An official in the Diyala Provncial Council said that “the release of tens of detainees a few days ago contradicts the Basha’ir al-Khayr operations command statements, which said that those only wanted criminals are being detained.” Basha’ir al-Khayr (“Signs of Goodness”) is the codename for security operations launched in Diyala Province in late July.

The source, speaking anonymously, called for “clarification of the truth for the general public” and for Iraqi commanders to announce “frankly” whether the detainees “are wanted individuals or suspects.” The source also called for the release of the 60% of the detainees who, according to Iraqi security sources, were not detained as wanted individuals “in the very near future.”

The source also called for Iraqi commanders to offer evidence for claims that joint forces had captured 42 commanders in the al-Qa'ida (in Iraq) organization recently, accusing the security forces of exaggerating such figures in past operations.

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