PM announces arrest of group who killed journalists, activists in Basra

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi chairs a meeting of Council of Ministers in Baghdad, February 3, 2021. (PM office)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced early on Monday the detention of a group who he said terrorized Iraqis in Basra.

Kadhimi said in a tweet that the security forces had detained perpetrators who killed journalist Ahmad Abdulsamad and medic Jinan al-Shahmani in Basra last year.

“The death squad which terrorised our people in Basra, and killed innocents, are now in the hands of our heroic forces, on their way to a fair trial,” Kadhimi tweeted.

“We got the killers of Jinan and Abdulsamad, and we will get the killers of Reham, Hosham, and all others. Justice will not sleep,” he added.

Two senior Iraqi officials told AFP on Sunday that the security forces had arrested four individuals in Basra city suspected of killing anti-government protesters and vocal journalists.

“Intelligence forces arrested four suspected members of a 16-person network responsible for the assassinations in Basra targeting activists,” AFP cited one of the sources as saying.

“They confessed to their crimes, including the killing of Iraqi journalist Ahmad Abdulsamad, and a number of other activists,” the official said.

Abdulsamad, 37, was killed in January 2020 alongside his cameraman Safaa Ghali, 26, in their hometown of Basra. The journalist had been vocally supportive of anti-government rallies that erupted across southern Iraq in October 2019.

Medic Jinan was killed and three other medics were wounded in a drive-by shooting near Basra’s al-Fayhaa in January last year.

AFP cited top government advisors as saying that their intelligence investigations found the perpetrators of the bloodshed hailed from powerful paramilitary groups.

“We know who killed Hosham, for example, but we cannot go after them,” one advisor told AFP.

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