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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Iraq police barred over killings
By Jim Muir
BBC News, Baghdad

Iraqi police graduates parade during their graduation ceremony (file image)
The unit will no longer operate on the streets of the capital
An entire Iraqi police brigade has been taken out of duty and will be re-trained after accusations of complicity in death squad killings.

The move came after nearly 40 people were kidnapped by armed men in Baghdad earlier this week.

Some of those seized in the two mass abductions were later found dead, the latest in a wave of sectarian killings.

Officials say they have realised that removing that unit from Baghdad would actually improve security.

The announcement that a whole Iraqi police brigade had been "pulled off line", as he put it, came from the spokesman for the American-led coalition, Maj Gen William Caldwell.

"There was clear evidence that there was some complicity in allowing death squad elements to move freely, when in fact they were supposed to be impeding their movement," Maj Gen Caldwell said.

"It was realised that removing them from Baghdad would, in fact, enhance security," he added.

'Blind eye'

The brigade is being sent to a training camp for checks, vetting and re-training.

Aftermath of bombing in Baghdad
Security continues to be a major problem in Baghdad
It had been accused specifically of turning a blind eye on Sunday and Monday when militia death squads carried out two spectacular mass abductions in Baghdad from a meat factory and a computer shop.

Some of the abducted were later found tortured and murdered, something that happens to scores of people here every day.

The Iraqi police have frequently been accused, mainly by the Sunni Muslims, of either participating in, helping, or turning a blind eye to sectarian murders carried out by Shia death squads.

A programme has been under way for more than a month for comprehensive assessment and re-training of all national police units - a process called by the Americans "transformational training".

The move will be welcomed by the Sunnis.

They are deeply suspicious of the police forces and they will need much convincing before they believe they have been fully purged.

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