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Iraqi security forces raid homes of Sunni politicians

Iraqi security forces raided the homes of two Sunni politicians north of Baghdad on Friday, according to security officials, heightening fears among Sunni leaders that Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is targeting them along sectarian lines.

The raids, which followed the arrest two days earlier of a Sunni official in Baghdad, came against the backdrop of a broader investigation of the country’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi. All the cases involve allegations of terrorism, officials said.

“Why don’t we hear about any kind of arrests or charges presented against members of the Shiite militia?” Salim al-Jubouri, the Sunni head of the Iraqi parliament’s Human Rights Committee, asked Friday.

Jubouri said more than 20 members of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni group, have been arrested on terrorism charges in the past two months. He said the suspects are innocent.

Echoing assertions this week by former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi, Jubouri said suspects are being tortured. “There are a lot of inhumane ways that they are trying to take confessions,” he said.

A spokesman for Maliki said investigations are not conducted on a sectarian basis.

“Arrest warrants are issued by the judiciary to bring to justice people believed to have done criminal acts,” Ali Hadi al-Moussawi said, adding that security forces “should not consider the criminals’ religious backgrounds when they want to bring them to justice.”

In the Hashimi case, three of the vice president’s bodyguards have been shown on television confessing to carrying out bombings and assassinations at his request. The vice president, who has taken refuge in the semiautonomous Kurdish region in Iraq’s north, has said the charges against him are bogus and politically motivated. Maliki, meanwhile, has said the matter is being handled by judicial authorities and urged Hashimi to return to Baghdad to face the charges.

On Friday morning, officials said, the security forces raided the home of Talal al-Jubouri, a Diyala province deputy governor, who was reported to be on business in Jordan and was not arrested. The forces also raided the home of Ghadban al-Khazraji, another deputy governor.

Khazraji and several bodyguards were taken into custody, according to Hafid al-Jubouri, the province’s deputy governor for security.He said the security agents also confiscated laptop computers.

On Wednesday, forces in Baghdad arrested Riyad al-Adad, vice president of the Baghdad provincial council, on his way to work, officials said.

All three Sunni politicians — Adad and the two in Diyala — are members of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Salim al-Jubouri said.

He said security forces are using the Hashimi case as an excuse to arrest other Sunni leaders.

Jubouri said the case against the two Diyala officials makes no sense. He said that Khazraji, for instance, is “a very quiet person, and according to my knowledge, he has nothing to do with any” terrorist activities.

He added that nine other politicians in Diyala, all Sunnis, are facing arrest warrants and have fled to the province of Sulaymaniyah.

Special correspondent Aziz Alwan contributed to this report.

Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.

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