Iraqi police toll is put at 4,000

Published October 7, 2006

BAGHDAD - About 4,000 Iraqi police have been killed and more than 8,000 wounded in the past two years, the U.S. commander in charge of police training said Friday, but he said the force's performance was improving and officials are working to weed out militiamen.

Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson said it is hard to tell how many militia members have infiltrated the police forces.

Beefing up Iraq's security forces is a cornerstone of efforts to stop the violence that has torn the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Police have been a prime target for attacks by Sunni insurgents.

Sunnis accuse the Shiite-led police of helping fuel sectarian violence that has killed thousands this year. They say the police have been infiltrated by Shiite militias and turn a blind eye to death squads who kidnap and kill Sunnis.

On Friday, a Sunni Kurdish party accused Shiite militias of killing a Kurdish lawmaker, Mohammed Ridha Mohammed, who was kidnapped in Baghdad the day before and whose body was found dumped along with that of his driver.

Members of Parliament have fallen victim in the past to Sunni insurgents, who have often targeted Kurds. But Mohammed's slaying was the first blamed on Shiite militias.

More victims were found Friday in the spiral of slayings between Shiite and Sunni groups. Nine bodies were found in the southern Shiite city of Kut and the nearby town of Suwayrah.

Other developments

- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged restless Iraqi Kurds to seek a closer alliance with other Iraqis as she visited the country's relatively peaceful Kurdish region Friday.

- Missouri state Rep. Jason Brown, 36, was shot in the lung by a sniper while on patrol near Baghdad, a family spokesman said Friday. Brown is a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve.

- A Navy corpsman testified Friday at Camp Pendleton, Calif., that Marines in his patrol killed an Iraqi man last spring after growing frustrated in their search for an insurgent. Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson Bacos was charged along with seven Marines in the slaying but struck a deal under which he pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy and agreed to testify at his court-martial.