Iraqi security officials arrested over plot

by Reuters
Sunday, 3 October 2010 04:36 GMT

* Provincial security officials arrested

* Building housing governor's office, council targeted

By Muhanad Mohammed

BAGHDAD, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Two senior security officials in Iraq's northern Diyala province were arrested in connection with a plot to bomb the provincial government building, officials said on Sunday.

A special forces counter-terrorism unit arrested Brigadier General Amir al-Taie, security adviser to Diyala Governor Abdul-Nassir al-Mahdawi, and Lieutenant Mahana al-Jubouri, chief of the building's security unit, on Sunday, according to Muthana al-Timimi, head of the provincial council's security committee.

No charges had been filed yet, officials said.

"The arrest was conducted by Diyala special security operations on accusations of threats targeting the local government building," Timimi said.

Security was tightened on Sunday around the government building in Diyala's capital, Baquba. It houses the governor's office and the provincial council chambers.

Security checkpoints and concrete blast walls were added and anyone entering the building, including officials, was searched.

"Now, the situation is under control and the danger is defused," Timimi said.

Diyala, an ethnically mixed region northeast of Baghdad, has seen some of the worst violence since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

While overall violence in Iraq has tumbled since the peak of the sectarian slaughter in 2006-07, bombings and other attacks by al Qaeda militants and Shi'ite militias occur regularly.

Diyala is mainly Sunni Arab but has significant Shi'ite and Kurdish populations.

Militants are believed to be trying to exploit a political vacuum that followed Iraq's inconclusive election in March. Nearly seven months later, Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions continue to squabble over positions in a new government.

Insurgents often target police, soldiers and government workers in a bid to discredit the government and disrupt Iraq's nascent democracy, military leaders say.

Diyala security officials said they had intelligence about a plot by armed groups against the government building but provided few details.

"Intelligence information has been received from the security apparatus that there were car bombs that would target the government building," Major Ghalib al-Jubouri, a police spokesman in Diyala, said. (Writing by Muhanad Mohammed; Editing by Jim Loney)

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