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Iraq says it freed hundreds of inmates

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 14, 2013 at 11:31 am •  Published: January 14, 2013

While the vast western province of Anbar remains the focus of the demonstrations, rallies have erupted in several other predominantly Sunni areas as well.

"I cannot wait to see my elderly father after five years in detention. We hope that the government will do more to end the suffering of the people in this country," said Aziz Sami Awad as he awaited the release of his 77-year-old father, who was arrested during a raid in the northern suburbs of Baghdad in 2009.

Iraq's human rights minister, Mohammed Shiyaa al-Sudani, is a member of the committee headed by al-Shahristani. He said the panel is open to hearing all "legitimate demands of the protesters," and he vowed to streamline the process of releasing detainees.

Some of those who have recently been released had already finished their sentences but hadn't yet been set free because of bureaucratic snags, while others were being held in pre-trial detention, he said. Many of them were detained as part of terrorism-related investigations.

Those set free Monday included detainees from Mosul, Salaheddin and Anbar — all areas that have witnessed recent protests, he said.

Later Monday, gunmen killed a tribal leader, Mohammed Tahir, in a drive-by-shooting in Mosul, according to police and hospital officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to reporters.

Tahir played a role in supporting and leading protests in the northern Iraqi city.

The killing happened a day after a bomb struck a convoy carrying Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi elsewhere in Iraq. He was unharmed.

The arrest of the Sunni finance minister's bodyguards last month was the spark that set off the wave of protests.


Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub contributed reporting.


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