BAGHDAD, (AP) – A university president and a top local official in a restive province north of Baghdad are suspected of giving weapons and government cars to al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgents, according to arrest reports obtained Wednesday.
The leak of the reports appeared aimed, in part, at countering claims by Sunni Muslim politicians that Shiite-led security forces arrested the two — both Sunnis — on political grounds in Diyala province.
Nazar al-Khafaji, University of Diyala president, and Hussein al-Zubaidi, head of the provincial council’s security committee, were arrested last week. Al-Khafaji was led from his home with a hood over his head and security forces seized three computers.
According to excerpts from the arrest reports by the anti-terrorism squad involved in the case, the two are suspected of aiding al-Qaeda insurgents involved in sectarian killings. The reports say more than 20 Diyala residents complained about al-Khafaji and al-Zubaidi.
The high-profile arrests prompted angry complaints by Sunni leaders, and the 41-member provincial council suspended operations last week. The council chief, Ibrahim Bajilan, said Wednesday that the council members would not return to work until the detainees are released.
Diyala is one of the country’s remaining insurgent strongholds and the scene of much of the recent violence in Iraq.
The U.S. military said American troops killed three suspected militants in Diyala on Wednesday, including two who had explosives strapped to their bodies.
The incident, near the town of Jalula, began when several men ran from a building as U.S. forces approached. Two were killed in by U.S. forces and a third blew himself up, the military said.
A day earlier, a suicide bomber killed 25 people in an attack on a police recruiting station in Jalula.
In other violence, three Iraqi motorists were killed Wednesday when a parked car exploded near them in eastern Baghdad, according to an Interior Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release information.