Posted on Wed, Aug. 20, 2008
last updated: August 20, 2008 04:25:45 PM
BAGHDAD — The U.S. military on Wednesday denounced a chaotic raid conducted by an Iraqi special forces unit Tuesday morning that killed an Iraqi government employee and sparked a gunfight with police in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.
"It was what appears to be a rogue operation. It's definitely concerning that we have an element that would go do something like that," said Brig. Gen. James Boozer, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, which oversee Diyala.
A spokesman for Gen. Ali Ghaidan, the commander of Iraqi ground forces, told McClatchy that the unit involved was the emergency response unit.
The Multi-National Force-Iraq Web site describes the emergency response unit as a "highly trained 746-man team trained to respond to national-level law enforcement emergencies. Team members undergo a robust eight-week specialized training course specifically developed for the current counter-terrorist fight."
During a raid on the government compound in Baqouba, Diyala's capital, the unit arrested the head of the provincial security council, killed the governor's secretary and confiscated cars and computers before engaging in a gunfight with local police.
A separate raid, in which the president of the local university was arrested, took place almost simultaneously.
Both men arrested are Sunni Muslims, and the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni party in the country, immediately condemned the raids as part of a sectarian campaign by the largely Shiite Muslim security forces.
Iraqi troops and police, supported by the U.S. military, are three weeks into a massive operation intended to clear Diyala province of insurgents, most prominently the Sunni-led group al Qaida in Iraq.
On Tuesday, Iraqi security officials said they'd opened an investigation into the raid "to pinpoint the negligent party."
(Spangler reports for The Miami Herald.)
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