BAGHDAD -- Iraqis in the disputed province of Kirkuk have appealed to the United Nations and the European Union for urgent action to protect the Arab and Turkoman communities there, a senior Arab politician told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq.
Khalid al-Mafraji said many prominent members of the two communities in Kirkuk have been targeted in assassinations and other attacks over the past seven years in the oil-rich northern province.
Kirkuk is an ethnically mixed region with significant Kurdish, Arab, and Turkoman populations. Iraq's Kurds have reasserted their presence in the province in recent years, claiming the city of Kirkuk as their capital.
Mafraji, a member of the Arab Political Council, a local advocacy group, said if the UN and EU fail to respond to Arab and Turkoman calls for better security, the Arabs will ask the central government in Baghdad for permission to set up their own local militia to ensure such protection.
He pointed to the assassination on June 30 of an Arab police captain south of Kirkuk as the latest incident demanding a thorough investigation.
Iraqi National Reconciliation Committee spokesman Abd al-Halim al-Rihaini told RFE/RL that the government is considering the request made by representatives of the Arab community for a local militia and will make a decision after a fact-finding mission presents its report on the situation in Kirkuk.
Turkan Shukur, a member of Kirkuk's provincial council from the Turkoman Front, told RFE/RL that the security situation in Kirkuk had recently taken a turn for the worse, with the majority of victims being Turkomans.
She said the Turkomans were not concerned over what would happen when U.S. forces leave, as U.S. troops in Kirkuk have always been neutral. She added that it was more important that the local forces did their job properly.
Adnan Karkuki, a leading member of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Kirkuk, said that while all communities were proportionally represented in the province's security forces, terrorist attacks have indiscriminately killed people from all communities.
Karkuki noted that the security situation in Kirkuk remained better than in many other parts of Iraq.