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Kirkuk Night Raid

By Kamaran Najm
  • Police Chief Colonel Sarhad Qadir plans the raid with a senior army official.
    Police Chief Colonel Sarhad Qadir plans the raid with a senior army official.
  • Iraqi officers head towards Kirkuk.
    Iraqi officers head towards Kirkuk.
  • It took Colonel Qadir and his men two hours to get to Tibig. Normally, it’s a 45 minute trip, but bridges on the road have been bombed.
    It took Colonel Qadir and his men two hours to get to Tibig. Normally, it’s a 45 minute trip, but bridges on the road have been bombed.
  • Police approach village on foot.
    Police approach village on foot.
  • House-to-house search for suspects.
    House-to-house search for suspects.
  • During the searches, women remain indoors while the men are taken outside.
    During the searches, women remain indoors while the men are taken outside.
  • Officers find blank Iraqi ID cards, threatening letters and other documents in one of the houses.
    Officers find blank Iraqi ID cards, threatening letters and other documents in one of the houses.
  • After the search, the men from the village are checked against lists of wanted people.
    After the search, the men from the village are checked against lists of wanted people.
  • About a tenth of the 150 men are arrested.
    About a tenth of the 150 men are arrested.
  • Once cleared by the police, the men are checked against an army list.
    Once cleared by the police, the men are checked against an army list.
  • This man is wanted by the police and the army.
    This man is wanted by the police and the army.
  • One of the arrested men cuts a deal and leads officers to a secret weapons cache.
    One of the arrested men cuts a deal and leads officers to a secret weapons cache.
  • Bullets, mortar rounds and explosives are found.
    Bullets, mortar rounds and explosives are found.
  • Four people are arrested outside the village on suspicion of preparing to bomb the security forces as they leave.
    Four people are arrested outside the village on suspicion of preparing to bomb the security forces as they leave.
  • Usually such raids result in casualties. This time no one was harmed.
    Usually such raids result in casualties. This time no one was harmed.

Kamaran Najm, a Kurdish photo journalist, joined an Iraqi police unit on a search operation in the village of Tibij, 55 kilometres west of Kirkuk, on September 21 2008.

The police unit is part of a force in charge of the volatile Kirkuk Governorate, which has been the scene of sectarian violence between Kurds, Turkomans and Arabs. The head of the police force, Colonel Sarhad Qadir, has had seven attempts on his life since his appointment in 2004. In 2005, his brother, a senior security official, was murdered in an ambush. And since then, four other members of his family have also been killed in attacks. Qadir has led 75 search operations in Kirkuk suburbs since January 2008, and says he is determined to carry on.

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