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Evidence backs Sunni claim of Shi’ite death squads, says US

By Sameer Yacoub, Baghdad
GUNMEN wearing Iraqi special forces uniforms yesterday kidnapped a wealthy banker and his son after killing five of their bodyguards.

Meanwhile, police found the bodies of three men who had been shot execution-style in northern Baghdad.

Sunni Arabs have been complaining for months that kidnappings and murder by Shi’ite-led commandos operated by the Interior Ministry are driving many Sunnis into the ranks of the insurgents.

On Thursday, the ministry announced an investigation into claims of death squads operating within its ranks after US military officials indicated there was evidence to support the allegation.

Ghalib Abdul Hussein Kubba, director-general of the Basra International Bank, was abducted from his home in Baghdad’s western Yarmouk suburb at about 9.30pm local time on Thursday, said Major Felah al-Mohammedawi.

The kidnappers arrived in a minibus and killed five guards at the house before seizing Mr Kubba and his son, Hassan, who is a senior employee at the same bank, according to Maj al-Mohammedawi - citing relatives of the bank chief.

"We think it is a criminal case because the bank director was not killed," Maj al-Mohammedawi added.

"We think the kidnappers will blackmail the family and they are after money. We have many similar cases of businessmen being abducted for money."

Police said no demands have been made to date.

Bank employee Kadhim al-Nuaimi said Mr Kubba had headed the chamber of commerce in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, which is 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, for about nine years during Saddam Hussein’s regime.

After the US-led invasion, Mr Kubba moved to Baghdad to run Basra Bank’s branch in the capital, Mr al-Nuaimi said. The bank was established in 1996 and also has branches in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Drive-by gunmen killed a cigarette salesman in Husseiniyah, a town about 20 miles northeast of Baghdad, early yesterday, police said.

The bodies of the three unidentified men, shot in the head, were found in two locations in northern Baghdad yesterday, police said.

It was unclear who killed the men, but they were discovered in an area where multiple bodies have turned up after being killed in a similar fashion.

In the death squad case, Iraqi security officials said the Interior Ministry probe would focus on a single incident involving 22 Iraqi policemen that US authorities said were detained last month before they were able to kill a Sunni Arab man north of Baghdad.

The US military has been fighting a tough battle to rebuild a legitimate Iraqi security force, which it hopes will eventually replace the American-led coalition forces and maintain order throughout the country.

 

Evidence backs Sunni claim of Shi’ite death squads, says US

By Sameer Yacoub, Baghdad
GUNMEN wearing Iraqi special forces uniforms yesterday kidnapped a wealthy banker and his son after killing five of their bodyguards.

Meanwhile, police found the bodies of three men who had been shot execution-style in northern Baghdad.

Sunni Arabs have been complaining for months that kidnappings and murder by Shi’ite-led commandos operated by the Interior Ministry are driving many Sunnis into the ranks of the insurgents.

On Thursday, the ministry announced an investigation into claims of death squads operating within its ranks after US military officials indicated there was evidence to support the allegation.

Ghalib Abdul Hussein Kubba, director-general of the Basra International Bank, was abducted from his home in Baghdad’s western Yarmouk suburb at about 9.30pm local time on Thursday, said Major Felah al-Mohammedawi.

The kidnappers arrived in a minibus and killed five guards at the house before seizing Mr Kubba and his son, Hassan, who is a senior employee at the same bank, according to Maj al-Mohammedawi - citing relatives of the bank chief.

"We think it is a criminal case because the bank director was not killed," Maj al-Mohammedawi added.

"We think the kidnappers will blackmail the family and they are after money. We have many similar cases of businessmen being abducted for money."

Police said no demands have been made to date.

Bank employee Kadhim al-Nuaimi said Mr Kubba had headed the chamber of commerce in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, which is 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, for about nine years during Saddam Hussein’s regime.

After the US-led invasion, Mr Kubba moved to Baghdad to run Basra Bank’s branch in the capital, Mr al-Nuaimi said. The bank was established in 1996 and also has branches in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Drive-by gunmen killed a cigarette salesman in Husseiniyah, a town about 20 miles northeast of Baghdad, early yesterday, police said.

The bodies of the three unidentified men, shot in the head, were found in two locations in northern Baghdad yesterday, police said.

It was unclear who killed the men, but they were discovered in an area where multiple bodies have turned up after being killed in a similar fashion.

In the death squad case, Iraqi security officials said the Interior Ministry probe would focus on a single incident involving 22 Iraqi policemen that US authorities said were detained last month before they were able to kill a Sunni Arab man north of Baghdad.

The US military has been fighting a tough battle to rebuild a legitimate Iraqi security force, which it hopes will eventually replace the American-led coalition forces and maintain order throughout the country.