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Women's rights activist beheaded in Iraq - CNN
« on: December 18, 2008, 11:59:03 »
Women's rights activist beheaded in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN)  -- Gunmen broke into the house of a women's rights activist
in the volatile northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday and beheaded her, police said.
The victim was identified as Nahla Hussain, the leader of the women's league of the
Kurdish Communist Party. She was alone in the house at the time of her death.

It is not known what the circumstances were that led to the attack. Violence against
women has been an ongoing problem in Iraq.

In an unrelated development, authorities this week seized between 20 and 30 Interior
Ministry officials allegedly linked to an offshoot of Saddam Hussein's Baathist movement,
a ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The arrests come ahead of next month's Iraqi provincial elections, a watershed event
that's generating an uptick in civil unrest and political infighting. The detained have
links to the al-Awda party -- an underground successor to Hussein's Baath party,
the movement that ruled Iraq for 35 years but later was banned after Hussein
was overthrown in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

There were no details about what the detained officials were accused of doing.
It is the latest problem facing the Interior Ministry -- which oversees policing,
border enforcement and internal security but has been criticized by Iraqi and
U.S. officials for its inefficiency, corruption, and infiltration by Shiite militia
groups during the Sunni-Shiite violence in 2006 and 2007.

According to Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman,
the highest-ranking person taken into custody was a brigadier general, and
the others were low-ranking officers. He said 23 officers were detained, and
judicial authorities were questioning them. A second Interior Ministry official,
who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least 32 ministry employees
were arrested between Monday and Wednesday, although he had no
information about the reasons for the arrests.

The arrests, made inside and outside the ministry, were carried out by an
elite force that reports directly to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the official
said. Critics have accused al-Maliki of taking unilateral action against
political rivals. At least two generals, including Gen. Ahmed Taha Abu
Ragheef, the head of the ministry's Internal Affairs department and a
traffic police general, were among the arrested, the official said.

Ragheef, appearing on state TV, denied the arrest and said he took part
in the investigation that led to the arrests. Khalaf said Ragheef was not
among those arrested.

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