Shia fighters leave Tikrit amid looting complaints

Paramilitaries accused of embarking on looting spree after helping retake Iraqi city from ISIL fighters.

    Local officials said the mayhem left hundreds of homes and shops looted or torched [Reuters]
    Local officials said the mayhem left hundreds of homes and shops looted or torched [Reuters]

    Almost all Shia paramilitaries have left Iraq's northern city of Tikrit after locals complained that some fighters had spent several days looting the town after helping retake it from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

    "Most of the [paramilitaries] were removed from the city," Ahmed al-Kraim, the head of the council of Tikrit and its province Salahuddin, said on Saturday.

    The rampage of theft and burning began on Wednesday, within hours of the Iraqi government declaring that security forces and Shia paramilitaries had recaptured the city from ISIL after a month-long battle. ISIL had held Tikrit since last June.

    Local officials said the mayhem left hundreds of homes and shops looted or torched. The violence had threatened to cast a pall over the government victory in the city, home of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's deceased president.

    Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi met officials from Salahuddin province and took the decision that the paramilitaries had to leave Tikrit.

    Al-Kraim called the talks with Abbadi "very positive".

    The Sunni politician said that the looting and burning had stopped on Saturday after "the federal and local police along with [counterterrorism] troops became responsible for Tikrit's security".

    Karim al-Noori, a spokesman for the Shia paramilitary fighters, confirmed that 80 percent of the Shia volunteer fighters had left Tikrit.

    "The situation now is calm," said a police major in Tikrit, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Some eyewitnesses and government officials also blamed local Sunnis for the looting.

    Abbadi, a moderate Shia, has insisted that he will not tolerate rights abuses by any group in the war against ISIL, which has massacred thousands of Iraqi Shia and members of other groups.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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