Kurdish intelligence operatives have been patrolling and conducting raids in an ethnic Arab sector of Kirkuk city, Arab residents told Slogger, decrying the practice as provocative.
The Kurdish intelligence services, known as Asayish, operate beyond the authority of the Baghdad government, answering instead to the Kurdistan regional government controlled by the two main Kurdish parties in Iraq.
Asayish raiding forces on Wednesday morning arrested 12 people in the al-'Urouba district of central Kirkuk city. The men were detained on suspicions of links to the so-called Naqshabandiya armed group, locals said. The raids commenced around 8:00 a.m. that day.
Arab residents of Kirkuk city allege that Asayish forces have conducted widespread detention operations in Arab districts of Kirkuk, especially targeting fighting-age men. Locals also allege that the men are picked up and held without warrants, on unknown charges, many even illegally transferred across provincial lines to prison in Sulaymaniya Province, inside the Kurdistan autonomous zone.
Kirkuki Arabs also allege that the Asayish captors alter the names of the detainees in their books in order to foil attempts by family members to gain information about their detained relatives.
Officer, wife murdered
A retired police officer and his wife were shot dead in their home on Wednesday in the 1 Huzairan (June 1) area south of Kirkuk city. Unknown gunmen entered the house near the al-Rasoul al-'Adham Shi'a mosque at 7:00 a.m. on the day of the attack, killing both victims with gunfire. The weapons were apparently fitted with silencers, security sources said, as neighbors did not detect the gunfire. Cross-border flight
Also Wednesday, Iraqi police arrested a suspect who had fled a nearby province, security sources said. The raid in the al-'Askari district targeted the man, wanted in connection with acts of violence in Diyala governorate, north of Baghdad. Security sources explain that low levels of cooperation between Iraqi police from province to province have given fugitives an incentive to cross provincial lines in fleeing arrest.
The same day, Iraqi police forces raided a house in the Tarklan area, about 20 miles west of Kirkuk, security sources said. The raid targeted men said to be connected with the Naqshabandiya armed group, in turn said to be linked to the banned Ba’th Party. Three wanted men were detained and transported to Kirkuk’s central prison for interrogation, security sources added. A weapons cache of automatic rifles was also uncovered in the raid, which was launched after Iraqi forces obtained intelligence information as to the presence of the wanted men.
Bucca detainees return after vetting
Finally, six detainees released by US forces last week from the Camp Bucca facility in Basra Province arrived in Kirkuk Province on Tuesday, security sources told Slogger, The men, all of Arab ethnicity, were released after being vetted by Iraqi security agencies.
Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.