Iraqi PM orders the arrest of any lawless gangs in Tikrit

  • World
  • Friday, 03 Apr 2015

Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi tours the city of Tikrit after Iraq security forces regained control from Islamist State militants, April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi called on security forces on Friday to arrest anyone breaking the law in the city of Tikrit, where looting has been seen following the ousting of Islamic State militants.

"The prime minister calls on the forces in Tikrit to arrest any person who performs such acts and to preserve the belongings and facilities in Salahuddin province," the prime minister's office said in a statement.

The Iraqi government claimed victory over Islamic State insurgents in Tikrit on Wednesday after a month-long battle for the Sunni Muslim city fought by the Iraqi army and federal police, with the support of Shi'ite militiamen.

Abadi said enforcement of the law was essential in order to "bring life back to the province as well as returning families" to the city, the capital of Salahuddin province, which was seized by Islamic State extremists last June.

Sunni lawmakers have complained of looting of homes and government buildings in Tikrit by rogue security force elements and members of the Shi'ite paramilitary groups.

Rafid Jaboori, a spokesman for the prime minister, would not comment on specific incidents, but said Abadi had a policy of zero tolerance for any rights abuses.

The ability to protect Sunni areas from revenge attacks and criminal actions is a central challenge for Abadi as he seeks to lead Shi'ite paramilitary volunteers and security forces in the campaign to retake nearly one-third of Iraq from Islamic State.

(Reporting by Saif Hameed, Ned Parker; Editing by Susan Fenton and Crispian Balmer)

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