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The New Arab

Genocide in Diyala: Iraqi officials warn of sectarian cleansing

Powerful Shia militia forces wield huge influence in Diyala [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 January, 2016

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MP's in Iraq have warned of systematic violence by militiamen in the Shia-dominated mixed province of Diyala north-east of Baghdad, where government-backed militias have repeatedly been accused of serious abuses.
Iraqi officials have raised the alarm of a "genocide" against Sunni Muslims in the eastern province of Diyala, where Shia militia groups wield huge influence.

The warnings come after the Islamic state group [IS] carried out twin bombings at a cafe frequented by government-allied militiamen in the Diyala town of Miqdadiyah on Monday, killing at least 24 people and wounding 52.

Angry mobs responded to the Miqdadiyah bombings by blowing up several Sunni mosques, completely destroying two of them, killing an imam, and burning Sunni-owned houses and shops.

"The central government has turned a blind eye towards Diyala province and its people's concerns and suffering. It has failed in its responsibility to provide security in the province," Diyala member of parliament Raad al-Dahliki told The New Arab.

"In Diyala, the militias are perpetrating a genocide with the killings, kidnappings, forced displacements and attacks against mosques," Dahliki said.

The day following the back-to-back suicide attacks, militiamen killed two journalists for TV channel viewed as sympathetic to the country's Sunni Arab minority.

     
      Monday's attack targeted militiamen at a cafe [Getty]

Lawmaker Liqaa Wardi said: "Diyala residents have been subjected to serious and continuous violations with hundreds of people being killed and large numbers going missing."

"Many prominent local figures and sheikhs have been eliminated by the militias, as security services are unable to protect citizens," she added.

The UN issued a statement condemning the bombings of mosques in Diyala.

"Once again, places of worship are being attacked. The perpetrators want to incite sectarian violence, in a desperate attempt to take the country back into the dark days of sectarian strife," UN Iraq representative Jan Kubis said.

Iraq declared victory over IS in Diyala early last year.

But the province remains a hotbed of violence by both IS militants and powerful Shia militia forces that have played a major role in the fight against the extremist group.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since dealt the militants significant defeats.

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