BEIRUT

Middle East

Top Sunni official held in Baghdad

In this Monday, March 30, 2009 file photo Sahwa, or Awakening Council members stand guard at a checkpoint in the Azamiyah area of north Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

BAGHDAD: Armed men in military uniform raided the home of a senior Baghdad Sunni politician overnight and whisked him and several of his guards away, police said Saturday.

"Armed men came last night and detained the head of Baghdad provincial council Riyadh al-Adhadh and four of his guards from his house in Adhamiyah," a police colonel told AFP.

An official in the council said "Adhadh and several of his guards were abducted from his house very late at night" and taken to an unknown location.

It was not immediately clear whether the Sunni politician had been officially arrested by the authorities but the armed men who took him came in 10 large SUVs and wore military uniforms.

Adhadh, a doctor by training, is a member of Mutahidoon, the main Sunni Arab bloc in parliament. He spent most of 2012 in prison on charges of funding insurgent groups.

He survived a bomb attack on his convoy that killed one of his bodyguards in September 2013.

The Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has repeatedly accused the country's top Sunni politicians of links with armed insurgent groups.

Months of mounting sectarian tension followed by a jihadist onslaught that has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis in years and threatened to redraw its borders have further poisoned difficult relations between Sunni and religious Shiite politicians.

On a visit to the Iraqi capital Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the country urgently needed a government "in which all Iraqis, regardless of background, feel represented."

 

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