Iraqi police investigated in kidnapping

Published October 5, 2006

BAGHDAD - Iraqi authorities pulled a brigade of about 700 police officers out of service Wednesday in its biggest move to uproot troops linked to death squads, aiming to signal the government's seriousness in cleansing Baghdad of sectarian violence.

The suspension of the police brigade was the first time the Iraqi government has taken such dramatic action to discipline security forces over possible links to militias, though some individual soldiers have been investigated. Baghdad's Sunnis say the Shiite-led police force is infiltrated by militias and accuse it of cooperating with death squads that kill Sunnis.

The brigade was responsible for a region of northeast Baghdad where gunmen on Sunday kidnapped 24 workers, all believed to be Sunni, from a frozen food factory. Seven of their bodies have been found so far.

Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the chief ministry spokesman, said the brigade was being investigated because it "didn't respond quickly" to the kidnapping.