Police death squad probe launched in Iraq

Iraq’s Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into claims that a police death squad has been operating in Iraq, a top official said today.

The probe was launched as police found the bodies of 10 more men who had been shot dead execution-style and dumped in three different areas of Baghdad’s predominantly Shiite suburb of Shula.

Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, Iraq’s deputy interior minister in charge of domestic intelligence, said the probe was launched following US military claims that they had detained 22 men wearing police uniforms who were about to kill a Sunni Arab man.

“We have been informed about this and the interior minister has formed an investigation committee to learn more about the Sunni person and those 22 men, particularly whether they work for the Interior Ministry or claim to belong to the ministry,” Kamal said.

A US general said American forces had found evidence of a death squad operating in Iraq’s Interior Ministry, the Chicago Tribune reported on its website yesterday evening.

An American military official in Baghdad confirmed the report but declined to provide further details.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson, who commands the civilian police training teams in Iraq, said the 22 men were employed by the Ministry of the Interior as highway patrol officers.

The bodies of Sunni Arabs, bound and gagged and shot in the head, have been turning up in Baghdad for months, fuelling allegations of sectarian killings, which Sunni Arab leaders say often are carried out by Shiites in army or police uniforms.

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