Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tensions rise as U.S. promises to investigate police rape allegation, Maliki fires official for remarks

The 20-year-old Sunni woman says she was detained Sunday by Shi'ite Iraqi police at her Baghdad home and accused of helping Sunni insurgents. She was then taken to a police station where she was raped by three policemen before American soldiers arrived and took her away. Al-Maliki insists the charge is a political ploy by Sunni politicians to discredit the police and security crackdown in Baghdad. He also announced an unspecified "reward" for the accused officers. U.S. spokesman William Caldwell confirmed that "an Iraqi woman" was brought to the U.S.-run hospital but gave no details of her treatment.

BAGHDAD, Iraq: The U.S. military Wednesday weighed into the politically explosive case of a Sunni woman allegedly raped last weekend by three Iraqi policemen, announcing its own investigation after the Shiite-run government dismissed her allegations as false.

The announcement, made to reporters by the chief military spokesman, appeared aimed at containing the growing political storm over the case, which strikes at the heart of Iraqi attitudes of dignity and the protection of women.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's exoneration of the three officers after an investigation lasting less than a day has enflamed Sunni-Shiite tension over a case that strikes at the heart of Iraqi attitudes toward protection of women.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, stoked the political flames further Wednesday by firing a top Sunni official who called for an international investigation into the woman's allegations, which were broadcast Monday by satellite television stations across the Middle East.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune

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