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War on Iraq

Militias Attacking Returning Refugees in Baquba

Most of the violence has been in the one-restive province of Diyala, where U.S. protection of Sunni militias is waning.
Many refugees who have ventured to return home following reports of relative quiet in the country have been forced to flee once again.

The restive Province of Diyala, of which Baquba is the capital, has seen most of the violence directed at returning refugees.

According to an Azzaman correspondent in Baquba, factional militias are active in the city and their attacks have even forced the heavily armed pro-U.S. Sunni militiamen to flee.

Some semblance of normalcy had returned to Diyala when Sunni tribesmen joined U.S.-financed groups of Sunni militias known as Sahwa or "Awakening." But U.S. protection of these groups is waning as Washington intends to transfer their file to the Shiite-dominated government.

Our correspondent says there has been a marked deterioration in security in Diyala, a province northeast of Baghdad extending as far as the Iranian borders.

The agricultural province is mainly Arab (93 percent) with a very small Kurdish minority (7 percent). But the Kurds are reported to be in control of about 27 percent of the province's area of 17,685 square kilometers.

Tensions between Arabs and the government on the one hand and Kurdish militias on the other have been rising recently. The Arabs dislike the increasing Kurdish presence in their areas.

But the Arabs themselves are divided along sectarian lines into Sunnis and Shiites.

A senior parliamentary Arab deputy harshly criticized the military campaigns by U.S. and Iraqi troops to subdue the province. Mohammed al-Dayni said the military forays have practically achieved nothing."

He said most of those detained during these operations were innocent people, while those fuelling and committing violence were at large.
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