Shiites protest removal of Karbala police chief, US soldier killed

Other News Materials 22 September 2008 13:39 (UTC +04:00)

More than 5,000 Iraqis protested in Karbala on Monday against the removal of the Shiite holy city's police chief.

The protestors called the government to take back its decision to transfer General Read Shaker from the restive Karbala, to which he is credited with having brought security, to the city of Baquba, reported dpa.

The protestors, who fear that the change might bring back militias and insurgents to the city, carried signs that said "Karbala is safe with its police."

Karbala is located some 110 kilometres southwest of Baghdad.

"I do not object to the government's decision of transferring me to Baquba after all I am an Iraqi soldier," Shaker told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Diyala province and its capital Baquba has been the scene of a major military operation in recent months. The province has been a safe-haven for anti-US insurgents, mainly belonging to a group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq, also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Diyala has an ethnically mixed population of Sunni and Shiite Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds and a history of ethnic and sectarian clashes and tension.

Separately on Monday, the US army in a statement announced the death of one of its soldiers on Sunday in an armed attack against a US patrol in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency reported.

Some 18 US soldiers have died in September, eight of them in non- combat situations.