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Iraqi Minister Accuses Government Of Kidnapping His Bodyguards

Iraqi Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi
Iraq's Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi has accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of orchestrating raids to kidnap members of his staff.

Al-Issawi said late on December 20 that troops visited his office and home and abducted more than 100 bodyguards and staff.

Al-Issawi is a member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc and a political rival of Maliki's Shi'ite-led government.

A Supreme Judicial Council spokesman said on December 20 that the chief of the minister's protection force was arrested two days previously on terrorism-related charges following confessions by some suspects.

One year ago, Iraqi authorities sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and his bodyguards, accusing him of running death squads.

Al-Hashimi fled to Turkey and was sentenced to death in absentia.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters