Updated at 9:07 p.m. EST, Mar. 28, 2009
Clashes broke out in Baghdad after police arrested a local Sahwa leader and his aide. Overall, at least seven Iraqis were killed and 18 more were wounded across the country. Also, the Iraqi government is threatening to deprogram Iranian refugees they would like to see leave the country.
Tensions between the Awakening Councils (Sahwa) and the Iraqi government came to a head today when police arrested a Baghdad area leader and his aide. Four people were killed and 10 others were wounded in rioting that followed the arrest. Five Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped at the scene.
Relations between the Sahwa groups and the Shi’ite central government are still strained despite the handover of the group from U.S. to Iraqi control last year. The group had been paid by the U.S. to handle security in largely Sunni areas and is credited with reducing violence in Iraq. They are supposed to be completely within Iraqi control by the end of the month, but a hiring freeze could eliminate jobs the members are counting on. Many already claim they have not been paid their salaries in months.
The Iraqi government on the other hand does have good reason to be wary of the group as many members fought alongside al-Qaeda until switching sides. They maintain the right to arrests such members who may have committed crimes.
The central government is also threatening to relocate Iranian refugees at Camp Ashraf so they can be “detoxified.” They say they will separate the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) leaders from their "brainwashed cult members" and deprogram the group. Saddam Hussein had invited the group to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war but renounced violence after the US.-led invasion. They had been under U.S. protection until last year.
In Mosul, an Iraqi army officer was wounded during a roadside bombing. Gunmen wounded a policeman in a small arms attack. A bomb blast in Sumer wounded four people. Gunmen killed one civilian and wounded two others in the Palestine neighbhorhood.
The bodies of two farmers were discovered in Amiriyat al-Fallujah.
A “special groups” leader was arrested in Aziziya.
Twenty detainees were cleared of charges and released in Fallujah.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis
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