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Iraqi Officials Confirm Arrests Of Minister's Bodyguards

Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi
Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi
Authorities in Iraq have confirmed that 10 bodyguards of the country's Sunni finance minister have been arrested in a counterterrorism probe.

A spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council said on December 21 that the chief of Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi's protection unit had confessed to participating in unspecified terrorist attacks.

The other nine bodyguards are being held pending further investigation.

Last week, Issawi said an unspecified "militia force" had "kidnapped" members of his staff.

He said he held Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'a, responsible for their safe return.

The arrests come at a time of heightened tensions between Iraq's Shi'ite majority and its Sunni minority.

Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has been sentenced to death in absentia for running death squads. He is now in Turkey.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters