NEWS

Iraqi Government Arrests Security Personnel After Twin Suicide Blasts

By Matthew Harwood

The Iraqi government has arrested approximately 60 members of the security forces after twin suicide bombings ripped through Baghdad on Sunday, killing more than 155 people in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

The government's investigation will decide whether the security officers and personnel were negligent or complicit in the attack. Iraqi officials have said that the suicide bombers must have gone through checkpoints to get to their intended government targets.

According to the Associated Press:

A military spokesman for the Iraqi capital, Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, told The Associated Press that 11 army officers and 50 security officials have been taken into custody over Sunday's bombings, which targeted the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad Provincial Administration.

The suspects were detained because they were responsible for protecting the area where the bombings occurred, al-Moussawi said. He said the investigation will determine whether they were simply negligent or actually helped the insurgents.

The Iraqi government's arrests have gone up the chain of command. The military commander and the police chief of the district where the attacks occurred were two of the 61 people taken into custody.

The round of arrests comes after rising public and opposition anger over the security failures that led to the attack. The Baghdad provincial council wants senior security officials fired, including the interior minister, reports CNN.com.

"Several opposition members of parliament called on top ministers to resign and called on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to testify to parliament about security lapses," reports Voice of America.

The successful attacks have also raised questions whether U.S. troops can responsibly continue to withdraw from the country, reports BBC.com. 

"The Americans cannot just wash their hands and say we are no longer engaged or interested,"  Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told BBC.com while reaffirming his commitment to the withdrawal timetable of U.S. combat troops.

During the summer, U.S. troops withdrew from Iraqi cities, leaving local security forces in control of urban areas as part of the Status of Forces Agreement between the two governments agreed to last year. The agreement also set a deadline for the complete withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.


♦ Photo of Iraqi Security Forces marching by DVIDSHUB/Flickr

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