American officials have secured permission from Hungary’s government to establish a police academy in a former Soviet military base to train Iraqis in policing skills, an occupation official spokeswoman in Baghdad said.

Over a two-year period 3000 trainees will be sent every eight weeks to the Hungary site, said the official.

There are currently training centres in Mosul, Baghdad and Basra, but if these centres were used alone, it would take the occupation forces up to six years to complete an Iraqi police force.

Within four months the first batch of 1500 officers will be deployed for training and will be ready to work in 18 months, said the spokesperson.

“This will bring to 65,000 police in Iraq, which the coalition believes is the number needed to police the country,” she said.

Currently, there are 37,000 Iraqi police forces on the streets struggling to maintain law and order in a city where crimes and violence have increasingly become part of day to day life.

US occupation administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, sacked hundreds of thousands of government employees following the invasion, in an effort to eliminate Ba'ath elements.

The Hungary site was also used earlier this year, in the run-up to the US-British invasion in March, to train Iraqi volunteers to work with American occupation forces.

Kidnappings

 

Missing: Abd Allah's mother says
kidnappers were watching her son

Kidnapping cases have skyrocketed in the nearly total lack of effective policing.

While occupation troops are trying to build up police, violence lurks beneath the surface in Baghdad, including middle-class neighbourhoods.

The al-Adamis’ are one family in al-Amariya, a middle-class area in the capital, prey to unforeseen horrors that have cropped up since the toppling of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. 

Four-year-old Abd Allah Yazin al-Adami’s grandmother weeps as she holds the brand new football she bought for his birthday.

But Abd Allah is gone, kidnapped by four men, as lawlessness hits even this tranquil neighbourhood, taxing the life of yet another ordinary family in US-British occupied Iraq.

“I cannot eat anything. I cannot calm myself. I can’t sleep. I just want my son,” says Abd Allah's mother, Sallay, holding her head in her hands.

So Sallay, a widow, waits along with her three children, her mother-in-law and her dead husband’s brother.

She recalls that Abd Allah had just finished drinking a glass of milk and run out to play soccer in cut-off jeans and an orange t-shirt.

With nine-year-old Mazin, a friend, he went to kick his dusty beat-up ball in the yard’s palm and fruit trees. The ball rolled into the street when a car pulled up.

A man with long hair and a bushy moustache said, “Hey, give me a kiss sweetie,” snatched Abd Allah and shoved him in the car, which sped away.

Mazin ran to tell his father, but it was too late.

At the police station, officers questioned them and promised to do their best, but more than 24 hours later the family has heard nothing.

“I still have hope,” said Abd Allah’s mother before falling back into one of her impenetrable silences. 

*Incorporating writing by AFP's Ned Parker in Baghdad