Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Sacked Iraqi police in Basra turn to terrorism

Security, Politics
(The Times) - A British police chief in Basra has given a warning that Iraqi officers sacked for corruption have turned to terrorism in revenge. Mike Colbourne, Assistant Chief Constable of Bedfordshire but currently the senior police adviser in southern Iraq, said many of those who had been dismissed or had retired were involved in violence.
The bleak assessment after four years of British attempts to convert the Iraqi police into an effective force comes within weeks of the expected handover of the city of Basra to Iraqi security control. The 500 British soldiers based at Basra Palace in the heart of the city who patrol the districts in armoured vehicles and work alongside the Iraqi Army and police force, are to be withdrawn and relocated to the main airport base along with all the other military units.
Although the pullout date remains an operational secret the Ministry of Defence in London has stated that the handover should go ahead within the next few weeks.
Mr Colbourne said on BBC Radio’s The World at One that the British troops would not withdraw until the Iraqis were ready to take on responsibility for security in the city themselves. However, he admitted that a significant number of Iraqi police officers were still engaged in corruption and violence, including murder and kidnappings.
“There are a number of Iraqi police service officers who are clearly aligned to militias,” he said. He added: “I think that there is violence being committed by police officers and other Iraqi security forces’ officers. We know there are significant numbers of both serving officers [and] those who have been sacked and retired who continue to be involved in violence.”
The infiltration of militia-loyal police officers into the Basra force has been a threat to the stability of the city since the British military occupation of southern Iraq formally came to an end in June 2004.

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