BAGHDAD (AFP) – Authorities arrested more people on Friday after car bombs were found near the offices of Iraqi politician Adnan al-Dulaimi but did not say whether they thought he was the target or intended to use them himself.
Dulaimi, who told AFP he may have been targeted, said US and Iraqi troops held 43 people in raids on his Baghdad office and home after discovering two primed car bombs nearby.
“Early in the morning US and Iraqi troops came to my home and arrested 30 people, including my son Mekki,” Dulaimi said.
He said troops had detained 13 people in a Thursday evening raid.
At the time, the Iraqi military Thursday announced the discovery of two vehicles packed with explosives at the premises in Baghdad’s Hail Adel neighbourhood.
“Two car bombs, primed to explode, were found inside the office compound,” Iraqi army spokesman Brigadier General Qasim Ata said on Thursday.
Troops destroyed the bombs in controlled explosions, causing heavy damage to Dulaimi’s office and several nearby houses.
“It’s a matter of regret that we found these car bombs at his office,” Ata added, without saying whether Dulaimi was the target or whether the vehicles were meant to be detonated elsewhere.
On Friday, Dulaimi dissociated himself from the vehicles, which he said were found “somewhere behind my office and not close to it.”
“There was no car bomb in or near my office,” he insisted.
“I want to tell the Iraqi government, the American and Iraqi forces to check the information correctly because this announcement will make problems for the political process.”
Interior ministry director of operations Abdul Karim Khalaf Friday confirmed the car bombs were found near Dulaimi’s office and later detonated.
“The car bombs were detonated near al-Dulaimi’s office and the investigation is ongoing,” Khalaf told AFP, declining to offer further details or comment on detentions.
“Al-Dulaimi is an important person. We cannot comment before the investigation is over.”
Dulaimi said the bombs could have been in the area to kill him.
“Maybe the car bomb was targetting me. I want to tell Ata that he should contact me before making any announcements to check the reality,” the Sunni leader said.
Dulaimi heads the General Conference of the People of Iraq, one of the parties in Iraq’s main Sunni bloc, the National Concord Front, which resigned from the government on August 1.
Earlier this year a car bomb was also found at Dulaimi’s premises but no charges were pressed because as a member of parliament he enjoys a measure of immunity.
Some Sunni politicians have in the past been questioned over their alleged links to insurgent groups.
Dulaimi is known to be a strong critic of the Shiite-led government’s policy of holding political detainees without bringing them to trial, most of whom are Sunnis.
In November last year, he claimed that Shiite militiamen working for parties within Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s ruling coalition were kidnapping and killing Sunni civilians.
“The Maliki government claims to be a government of national unity, but it knows what is happening to Sunnis — they are being killed and kidnapped inside government offices by militias,” he said at the time.
He had earlier last year warned that the country was heading “towards disaster” due to rampant killings by militias.
“If the militias are not deterred,” he warned, “the green and the yellow lands of Iraq will be burned soon.”
In May this year, Dulaimi and his bodyguards clashed with Iraqi soldiers after a booby-trapped bomb killed two soldiers near his home in Baghdad. His office said government forces had attacked his convoy.