Militias kill at least 18 people in Iraq's Diyala

Militias kill at least 18 people in Iraq's Diyala
Militias in Diyala have killed at least 18 people in apparent response to last week's devastating car bomb in the eastern Iraqi province that killed 115 people.
2 min read
21 July, 2015
The aftermath of the bombing in Diyala last week that killed 115 people. [Getty]

Shia militias in the Iraqi province of Diyala killed at least 18 civilians and arrested dozens of others on Tuesday, in apparent retaliation for a car bomb attack that killed and injured at least 250 people last Friday.

The attack began in the early hours of the morning, with mortar shells fired on two different areas in Diyala, causing dozens of casualties.

The militias then arrested more than 100 people, who were taken to unknown destinations.

There are now fears that the province on the Iranian border, which is majority Shia but has a large Sunni minority, may be about to descend into sectarian violence.

A local source told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the areas of al-Hadid and Habhab were hit by mortar shells, leaving 18 civilians dead and 24 injured, including women and children.

"Hours before the attack, the militias announced that they were retaliating against the terror attack in Bani Saad," the source said, referring to last Friday's car bomb.

"They also kidnapped 12 civilians, including a tribal leader and his son, from a village near Bani Saad, and took them to an unknown destination," the source said, adding that 80 others were also arrested from other areas, with the Iraqi security forces apparently unable, or unwilling, to intervene.

The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Salim Jabouri, issued a statement in which he said that "attempts to bring Diyala back into chaos" must end.

"Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, the ministers of defence and interior, and the security command in Diyala, must all take swift action to protect civilians from terrorism and chaos and to prevent security destabilisation," he added.

Jabouri also issued a rallying cry to the people of Diyala, asking them to "hold on to their unity and keep their region safe, as well as to prevent those with sectarian agendas from undermining their security and future".

This was echoed by an Iraqi parliamentarian, Jamal al-Karbouli, who heads the al-Hal movement.

"Targeting innocent civilians in Bani Saad and Habhab prove that there are terrorist groups aiming to prevent peace, stability and unity in Diyala," he added in a press statement.

Karbouli demanded that the security forces "take responsibility for protecting civilians and take action against the continuing threats by the Islamic State group against the Iraqi people in general".

He also warned against "attempts by militias and terrorist groups to provoke the people into reacting and to carry out operations that claim more lives, of which no one would benefit but terrorism and its supporters".