Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Clash between army troops and Kurdish forces feared to prompt ethnic conflict

Kirkuk, April 26 (AKnews) – A clash between Kurdish security forces and a unit of the Iraqi army troops in Kirkuk on Monday that left three killed is feared to develop into an ethnic conflict in oil-rich city.


On Monday, an Iraqi military convoy passing through Atlas Street, one of the most crowded streets of Kirkuk, opened fire at a taxi driver and killed him on the spot.

The incident prompted Kurdish security forces near the scene to intercept the convoy and arrest the troops. Soon after, a large force of Iraqi army troops entered Kirkuk to have the arrested released which set off a skirmish that developed into an exchange of gunfire between the Kurdish security forces and the army troops.

Kirkuk mayor Kamil Salayi said the conduct of the Iraqi army troops in the streets of the city was "improper" and disseminated fear that "affected the semi-stability of the city".

"Crowded streets like Atlas… are not for military vehicles to move around on," he said, "We hope a committee formed to investigate the incident can conclude the initial cause of the incident and disclose the guilty party".

Kirkuk security forces media official Farhad Hamaali, told AKnews that the Iraqi army troops "have no duties in Kirkuk city…maintaining security inside the city is the duty of the security forces, not the army".

An Iraqi Intelligence officer who declined to be named told AKnews that the incident will negatively affect the psychology of the people in addition to developing into an ethnic-based dispute.

Kuridsh politicians have often accused the the Iraqi army in Kirkuk, mainly formed of Arab ethnics, of supporting the Arabs in their disputes with the Kurds.

The intelligence officer criticized the role of the media in covering the incident saying they should wait for the results of the investigations before judging who was to blame.

Two Kurdish security personnel and one civilian were killed in the incident in addition to three civilian injuries, according to the latest reports.

According to some reports, the Kurdish force intercepted the Iraqi army troops and opened fire, while other media sources said the Iraqi army troops attacked the Kirkuk security forces as part of their plan to put pressure on the Kurds so that the Iraqi army can take over maintenance the city's security which is currently the duty of the police and other security forces.

Sarhad Qadir the director of Kirkuk districts police, said on Monday that it was the Iraqi army trrops who initiated the gunfire and killed two security personnel from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headquarters.

Qadir told AKnews on Monday that a committee had been formed between the Iraqi army and Kirkuk police to investigate the incident. He said the commander of the troops was the brother of the Iraqi Army's 12th division in Kirkuk.

Qadir explained that the man who opened fire at the Kurdish security forces was a guard of the army commander's brother.

Reported by Nabaz Rostan

Ry/Ka/AKnews

26/04/2011 15:29