Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New police chief appointed in Anbar following bombings

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Anbar, Dec. 28 (AKnews) -  Brigadier General Abdul Hadi Arzij has been officially announced by Anbar provincial council as new police chief after dismissing the former chief following Monday bombings that targeted government compounds and killed nine.Explosion in Anbar
The Anbar provincial council voted unanimously on Friday to dismiss police chief Baha al-Qaisi from his office and appoint Brigadier General Hadi Arzij instead.

In an official announcement in Ahmed Abu Rish place in Ramadi city, Arzij was officially assigned as the new police chief in the province to replace al-Qaisi who was fire by the provincial council for poor management.

"The dismissal of al-Qaisi who served as commander of the police came as a result of his poor management for security situation (in the province) and the security breaches" recently that.

On Monday, two bombers attacked government buildings killing nine and injuring 53 others, most of them civilians. In mid-December, too, bombers attacked the government buildings in a similar scenario and killed 13 and wounded more than 45 others.

"We wish the new leader of the Anbar provincial police to enforce new security plans to protect the lives of innocent people in the province." the governor of Anbar, Qassim Mohammed Abed, told AKnews.

The move was welcomed by the tribal leaders of the mainly Sunni province, as well, who took up arms in 2006 against the insurgents like al-Qaeda in Iraq and formed the Awakening Councils to help Iraqi security forces.

Anbar was enjoying relative stability since 2006 when the Awakening Councils drove out insurgents from the province.

"The tribes in Anbar welcomed the new police leader as he represents them, and he is one of the people of Ramadi" said Aifan Saadoun, head of the security committee in Anbar provincial council.

Saadoun says the council requested ending the work of al-Qaisi not because of security breaches, but because they wanted a a police commander who "represents its sons and be familiar with the geography of the province,"
Al-Qaisi said in an interview with AKnews that he accepted the dismissal and that he was at least happy that he was able, during the time he served as police chief, to thwart numerous organized crimes and bombings.

"The maintenance of security in Anbar was one of my priorities" he said.

Reported by Ali al-Qaisi, edited by Raber Y. Aziz

Tuesday, December 28th 2010 1:46 PM

Erbil preparing for New Year Day amid fears of attacks

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Erbil, Dec. 27 (AKnews) – Erbil city, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan Region, is preparing for the New Year Day celebrations amid fears of terrorist attacks.Chrismas Tree 2011

Erbil provincial council is preparing events and celebrations to mark the New Year day including live music concerts and fireworks in the public parsk and around the government building.

"Dozens of artists will participate in the music concerts" said Tahir Abdullah, deputy Erbil governor.

Also big screens will show live the celebrations in three different spots in the city, including one on top of the historical citadel in the center of Erbil so that people can watch the events from a better position.

The provincial council has spent 60 million Iraqi Dinars (about US$49,000) on the preparations, Tahir said.

Streets, public parks and the shopping malls in the city are already decorated with colorful lights during the night.

Erbil's Majidi Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in Iraq, has erected a large Chrismas tree in the center of the mall.

"Fireworks in Shandar Park and the surrounding of the provincial council will also add to the beauty of the celebrations" Abdullah said.

But the preparations of the day come amid fears that armed groups may deal a blow on the crowds of the merry-making people in the city which enjoys greater security and stability. The last fatal attack was in 2007 when a truck packed with explosives exploded in front of the regional government's ministry of the interior killed 17 people.

On Sunday night, two sound bombs exploded in Ainkawa, a predominantly Christian-populated town to the west of the city, spreading fear in the hearts of the local Christians and the displaced Iraqi Christians who have fled their homes to the town.

Also, Monday morning, an improvised explosive device consisting of two mortar rockets placed in a crowded area of the city was disarmed by an explosives disposal squad.

Erbil police chief Abdulkhaliq Talaat says they have their own security plan for the day, in cooperation with the other security services.

"The security forces will maintain security of the hotels and public places where celebrations are held." Talaat said.

The security services were expected to release later today a statement about the two explosions in Ainkawa.

(Saman Ali contributed to this story, Edited by Raber Y. Aziz)

Monday, December 27th 2010 4:01 PM

Sound bombs terrify Christians in Erbil ahead of celebrations

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Erbil, Dec. 27 (AKnews) - Twin sound bomb explosions in Erbil city's Ainkawa town ahead of new year celebrations has spread fear among the dominant Christians of the town and the displaced Iraqi Christian residing there.Church in Ankawa

The explosion took place late Sunday night in front of a restaurant "Mnqal Jan" in Ainkawa, north west of Erbil, where hundreds of displaced Iraqi Christian families from central and southern Iraq have taken sanctuary.

The explosion did not cause any casualties except some damage to a nearby house.

Though sound bombs cause no serious damages, it could be an alert for the Christians who had found peace after fleeing their homes in the other parts of Iraq for fear of attacks by armed groups.

In November, insurgents attacked a church in Baghdad taking the church-goers and the priests hostage. while security forces were trying to raid the church to free the hostages, some 50 people including the attendants, priests, and security personnel were killed.

Armed groups have always tried to penetrate the security lines of the Kurdish cities, but have considerably failed to do so.

On November 1st, the suicide driver of a vehicle packed with around 450 kg of explosives was shot dead in one of the checkpoints that lead to Erbil city by security forces.

In contrast to the rest of Iraq, Christians of Ainkawa town, were preparing for the the New Year day celebrations because the Christians felt safe. But the sound bombs may deter them from merry-making.

Christians of other parts of Iraq have already announced plans that they will not celebrate Christmas and the new year day for fear of insurgent attacks. instead they would gather in one church.

Police forces are looking into the explosions and no group has claimed responsibility yet.

(Hemn Jamal contributed to this story, Edited by Raber Y. Aziz)

Monday, December 27th 2010 1:43 PM