US patrols to weed out militias posing as Iraqi police
Peter Beaumont in Baghdad | September 11, 2006
The police in Baghdad and multinational forces are cracking down on militias posing as police amid continuing accusations that members of the Iraqi police service are involved in kidnappings, torture and extra-judicial killings.
A register of police officers, their cars and weapons is being compiled in a pilot scheme in eastern Baghdad. Every officer has been photographed, fingerprinted, and tattoos or scars photographically recorded. The database has also checked the serial numbers of weapons assigned to individual officers against their official ID cards, along with the vehicles they are allowed to drive.
The scheme comes after claims that Shia militia members within the police, or associated with individual officers and stations, are responsible for death squad activity.
US patrols serving with the multinational forces in Baghdad have been instructed to target key districts where allegations of men in police uniforms being involved in extra-judicial killings have been strongest. Troops have been ordered to conduct spot checks on police officers manning check points and confiscate weapons not officially held.
The crackdown came as three people were killed and 15 wounded when a bomb exploded in a popular market in central Baghdad. Clashes in the town of Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, killed five people and wounded 14, police said.
Sectarian violence is one of the most serious issues confronting Iraq, amid warnings from the Pentagon and from senior Iraqi politicians that if it continues, Iraq faces the risk of full-blown civil war.
US troops patrolling Adhamiyah, a district of Baghdad, yesterday carried out spot checks on police patrols.
"If the weapon does not match the ID, I'm taking the weapon," said Sergeant Tim Ybay