Iraq PM Abadi orders police to stop using fake bomb detectors

by Reuters
Sunday, 3 July 2016 20:02 GMT

BAGHDAD, July 3 (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered security services on Sunday to stop using fake bomb detectors at checkpoints after a bombing killed at least 120 people in Baghdad in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

Reacting after the deadliest attack so far this year, Abadi also ordered a new investigation at the interior ministry into "corrupt deals" to buy ADE 651 devices developed as lost golf balls finders and sold to Iraq and other nations as hand-held bomb detectors.

A police officer earlier confirmed to Reuters that these devices, commonly known as the "magic wand", were still in use five years after the scandal about the sale to Iraq broke out.

The British businessman who sold the detectors to Iraq and other countries, James McCormick, was sentenced in 2013 in Britain to 10 years in jail for endangering lives for profit.

McCormick earned more than $40 million from sales in Iraq alone, British police said at the time. His customers also included the United Nations.

Abadi ordered more reputable vehicle inspection systems too be installed at entry points into Baghdad and other provinces.

The prime minister was met by an angry crowd on Sunday when he toured the scene of the overnight explosion that targeted the shopping area of Karrada, a mostly Shi'ite district with a small Christian presence and several Sunni mosques.

Videos posted on social media showed people running after his SUV convoy, throwing pavement stones, bottles of water, empty buckets and slippers.

Comments on social media voiced outrage that police still used the fake bomb detectors at checkpoints despite the devastation caused by Islamic State bombings.

After a sweeping expansion in Iraq in 2014, the ultra-hardline Sunni group has been losing territory since last year to U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militias.

Islamic State has preserved the ability to stage bombings in Baghdad despite its defeat last month in Falluja, a city just west of Baghdad that the militants captured in January 2014.

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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