Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki delivers a speech in Moscow, on October 8, 2012
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki delivers a speech in Moscow, on October 8, 2012. A senior Sunni politician on Thursday blamed Iraq's anti-terror forces, which report directly to Maliki's office, for the shooting of his young nephew the previous day. © Natalia Kolesnikova - AFP/File
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki delivers a speech in Moscow, on October 8, 2012
AFP
Last updated: January 4, 2013

Governor blames Iraqi PM-linked unit for shooting

A senior Sunni politician on Thursday blamed Iraq's anti-terror forces, which report directly to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office, for the shooting of his young nephew the previous day.

The remarks from Atheel al-Nujaifi, governor of the northern province of Nineveh, threaten to further raise political and sectarian tensions with Maliki's Shiite-led government, which has already been grappling with days of protests by the country's Sunni minority.

"This anti-terrorist brigade, we call it the golden brigade, in Mosul, opened fire on the car and killed the young boy in public, in front of everybody," Nujaifi told AFP.

Iraq's anti-terror brigade reports directly to Maliki's office of the commander in chief, rather than the interior or defence ministries, a set-up that has drawn sharp criticism from the premier's political opponents.

An official in the brigade, speaking on condition of anonymity, insisted that the forces "did not have any missions inside Mosul" at the time of the shooting. He declined to give further details.

Nujaifi, however, alleged that the soldiers had followed the car because it had cut in front of their convoy on Mosul's streets, and then opened fire.

"They followed the car, and they opened fire with no regard," he said. "The young boy was in the car with his brothers and the driver, returning from school."

Abdulrahman, aged 10, was killed by gunfire on Wednesday, police and medics said, but the precise circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear.

He was the son of Khaled al-Nujaifi, an army colonel and chief bodyguard to Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, both of whom are the governor's brothers.

Atheel al-Nujaifi's comments threaten to further enflame tensions between Maliki and the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc of which Osama is a senior leader.

Iraqiya is a part of Maliki's unity government, but frequently criticises him in public. Top party members have attended protests in Sunni-majority areas of Iraq calling for the release of prisoners and criticising the misuse of anti-terror laws by the authorities to target the minority community.

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