Thousands of detainees, two doctors released in Iraq

Iraqi authorities announced Tuesday that they have released 81,397 detainees this week under a new amnesty, while two abducted doctors were also freed after a sizable ransom payment, reported dpa.

The detainees were released under the amnesty law that was passed by parliament in February.

Some 37,912 of the detainees were released on bail, judge Abdel- Sattar al-Bairaqdar, the spokesman for the high court council, told the state daily al-Sabah.

At least 24,534 people, who are wanted by the authorities, were given amnesty under the law, the judge said.

However, US forces told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that it was only less than 200 Iraqis who have actually been released from the Iraqi system under the amnesty law.

Legal committees are now looking into requests for amnesty filed by many detainees whose previous requests had been rejected. The new law gives the right of appeal.

Thousands of Iraqi detainees are also being held in prisons run by the US military.

The passage of the amnesty law was hailed as a breakthrough that forms an important component of national reconciliation.

Iraq's main Sunni Arab bloc, the Iraqi Accord Front, said passage of the law would speed up its return to the Shiite-led coalition government and help heal sectarian divisions.

Separately, two Iraqi doctors and an assistant who were abducted two weeks ago have been released after their families paid a ransom to the kidnappers, security sources told dpa.

Sources said that the family of Sabar al-Qeisy, one of the abducted doctors, paid 230,000 US dollars in ransom.

The doctors and the assistant were released on Monday and were in stable health. But they had been tortured by the kidnappers, sources said.

The release of the kidnapped doctors occurred near Haditha in Anbar province.

Sources added that the kidnappers were suspected members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

An Iraqi police source said that the US forces have managed to arrest one of the kidnappers near Beiji area, some 23 kilometres north of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the US military said a massive cache containing weapons and ammunition was uncovered in an underground room Monday during a search operation in the Jazeera desert west of Samarra.

Information from a local Iraqi source led to the discovery of the cache, according to the military.

In other news, nine people were killed and 50 injured in a suicide car bomb attack on provincial police headquarters in the northern city of Mosul on Monday, Iraqi media reported.

Among those killed were four policemen and two children, the Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq) agency reported.

A suicide attacker drove and detonated an explosives-laden car near a checkpoint outside the police headquarters.

Medical sources told dpa that an 11-year-old-child was killed on Tuesday when militants opened fire on him after he was leaving his school in Baquba, some 60 kilometres north of Baghdad.

In the same city, security forces found the body of a child which was reported to be abducted on Saturday, sources told Voices of Iraq.

Sources said that the body was found near a hospital in Baquba's Katon district.

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