BAGHDAD – Iraqi security forces raided the governor’s office in restive Diyala province Tuesday, killing an official and injuring four guards. A Sunni provincial council member and the Sunni president of Diyala University were also arrested, prompting accusations of sectarian bias on the part of the Shiite-dominated security forces.
Local officials declared three days of mourning and protested the raids. In response to the tensions, security officials imposed a curfew on Baqouba, the provincial capital.
The arrests threatened to deepen Sunni frustrations in Diyala, which is largely led by Shiites but has a predominantly Sunni population. U.S.-backed Sunni fighters who turned against the insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq have for months expressed resentment at arrests and crackdowns by the Shiite-led police force.
Ibrahim Hassan Bajilan, chairman of the local government council, said the forces raided the office of the provincial governor, Raad Rashid al-Tamimi, early Tuesday. The ensuing clashes killed Abbas Ali al-Tamimi, the governor’s secretary, and wounded four guards, police said.
The security forces detained Hussein al-Zubaidy, the head of the council’s security committee and a member of the country’s largest Sunni political faction, the Iraqi Islamic Party, Bajilan said. Also arrested was Nazar al-Khafaji, the president of Diyala University, who was taken from his house.
“What they did was a gross violation of the local government authority and a breach of all values and good conduct,” said Hadi Abdullah al-Tamimi, a Shiite lawmaker from the ruling United Iraqi Alliance who was in the building when the raid was conducted.
In a statement, the Iraqi Islamic Party questioned the reasons for the raid, demanding, “Why does sectarianism remain the first and last motive of the security forces?”
It was unclear why the forces arrested al-Zubaidy and al-Khafaji. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, the top Iraqi army commander in the province, said the two men were “wanted targets” but declined to specify what crimes they had allegedly committed.
Also Tuesday, a car bomb killed three policemen in Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar province, once a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency.
In Baghdad, Iraqi security forces arrested the son of Adnan Dulaimi, a prominent Sunni politician, apparently on charges of terrorism and kidnapping, Dulaimi said in a phone interview late Tuesday night. His son, Muthana, 44, was an innocent spare-parts shop owner, he said, adding that the arrest was politically motivated.
Dulaimi’s Accordance Front rejoined the Shiite-led government last month after withdrawing nearly a year ago.