More Iraqi families flee sectarian violence

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By Salam al-Shammari

Azzaman, December 29, 2013

The upsurge in violence in Iraq in the past few months has forced hundreds of families to flee to safer areas, officials in the restive Province of Diyala have said.

They said at least 250 families have fled their areas recently and asked the government in Baghdad for assistance to have them settled in the provincial capital of Baaquba.

“These 250 families were forcibly moved as a result of escalating violence in the province in the past two months,” said Sameer Mohammed Noor, a senior provincial official.

Most of the families, he said, belonged to non-Arab non-Sunni groups.

“The majority of the 250 families are Kurds or Turkmen,” he added.

Diyala is a predominantly Muslim Sunni Province, but it also has sizeable minorities of Kurds and Turkmen who are mostly Sunni Shiites.

Noor said security conditions were worsening in the province and groups linked to al-Qaeda were mounting more operations than before.

“Heinous crimes have been committed (by these groups) against innocent people in some provincial districts, leading to an exodus of vulnerable minorities” he said.

Noor cited two provincial districts which have been the hardest hit “by terrorist groups.”

“We request the government to send a fact-finding commission to the districts of Jalawla and Saadiya to care for the displaced families and take action regarding security,” said Noor.

Both districts are inhabited mainly by Muslim Shiites and have been repeated the target of deadly suicide attacks and car bombs.

Noor said the government should send “a regime of its emergency forces” to both districts to guard them against attacks.