Tuz Khurmatu in security crisis
Peshamrga forces insist on remaining in the area to provide better security
The security conditions in the multiethnic district of Tuz Khurmatu have extremely deteriorated as the area has witnessed some of the deadliest attacks by insurgent groups in the past weeks. Most recently some terrorists attacked Sulaiman Bag sub-district on July 24 and killed 14 Truck drivers who were mostly Shias from Baghdad and Nasiriya cities. The security forces in the area failed to stop the insurgents, and as a result the area has been sub-district controlled by the terrorists.
The numerous bombings in Tuz Khurmatu infuriated people especially after a car bomb, targeting officials of the city’s Turkmen Front in Tuz Khurmatu, killed its deputy chief and several others last month. People called the government to find a solution for the security issues.
Turkmens in Tuz Khurmatu started demonstrating to protest against the inactiveness of security forces in their area. They asked the government to send additional troops from the army and police forces to their area; they also asked for forming awakening forces from the Turkmens to restore stability in the district.
But this protest ended with the fall of dozens of people dead and others wounded when two suicide bombers wearing explosives belts blew themselves amid the protesters.
A few weeks ago a highlevel delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs, Hussain al-Shahristani visited Tuz Khurmatu district and held a meeting with local officials.
The Turkmens of the area claimed that they have been particularly targeted by terrorists; they called the government to provide better security.
Shahristani decided to form a force through recruiting soldiers from Diyala Province to protect Turkmen neighborhoods and form an emergency regiment in which half of its elements would be Turkmen. However, this decision was not welcomed by the Arabs and the Kurds, as they left the objected it and left the meeting
Despite all attempts made by the government such as implementing a security operation in Tuz Khurmatu district to search for wanted men and weapons caches, the district remained instable and the number of bombings did not decrease.
On July 24 at 12:00 o’clock midnight, over 150 armed men attacked Sulaiman Bag, a subdistrict run under Tuz Khurmatu. After blocking Baghdad-Kirkuk road, they seized several big trucks and killed 14 drivers who from the other provinces of Iraq. The area was finally controlled by the terrorists.
Tuz Khurmatu district mayor, Shalal Abdul accused some inhabitants of Sulaiman Bag for assisting the terrorists to control the sub-district.
Abdul said the fighting and clashes between the insurgents and the Iraqi army forces in Sulaiman Bag sub-district will not affect Tuz Khurmatu. He said the insurgents will not be allowed to enter Tuz Khurmatu due to the existence of Peshamrga forces around the district.
Salahaddin Provincial Council last week held a meeting and decided to dissolve Dijla Operations Command (DOC) due to failing in performing their duties. DOC was formed to protect the district from terrorist attacks but failed.
Although no decisions made to make Peshmarga forces leave the district, PUK politburo member, Mahmoud Sangawi, said the Peshmarga forces will not abide by any decisions asking them to leave the area.
He said it is unfortunate to see the terrorists have targeted Tuz Khurmatu. He said Peshmarga forces are in the district to protect the district’s people and will remain there until they are needed.
Tuz Khurmatu district affiliated to Salahaddin province about (125 km north of Baghdad) is considered of the disputed areas, as it was agreed at the end of 2009, that the management of these areas would be joint between Erbil and Baghdad.
A Tuz-Khurmatu blast.