Many Iraqi prisoners go free

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Hundreds of newly freed Iraqi prisoners kissed the ground after being dropped at bus stations Wednesday as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched the largest such release since the U.S.-led invasion.

Sunni Arab political leaders welcomed the initiative, which was intended to promote reconciliation in this fractured nation. But some expressed fear the releases would be offset by more arrests. There have been accusations that Sunnis have suffered arbitrary detentions and even torture at the hands of the Shiite-led government.

“We want a real solution,” said Sunni legislator Mohammed al-Dayeni, calling for all detainees to be released. “We demand that random raids and arrests be stopped in all Iraqi provinces, and only in that way can we ensure a safe environment.”

The government has promised to release a total of 2,000 detainees whose cases have been reviewed, in batches of about 500. The first 594 were freed Wednesday from U.S.- and Iraqi-run prisons around the country, including Abu Ghraib.

Al-Maliki has made security and reconciliation a priority of his new government. But he also has vowed to crack down on violence often blamed on the Sunni-led insurgency, and said the release plan excludes loyalists of ousted leader Saddam Hussein, as well as “terrorists whose hands are stained with the blood of the Iraqi people.”

A parked car bomb struck an outdoor market in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least two people and wounding 12, police said – one of several attacks that killed 21 people nationwide.

In a new setback to the U.S.-led coalition, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema said Wednesday that Italy will withdraw all its troops from Iraq by this fall, according to the Italian news agency ANSA. Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government had promised to withdraw forces by the end of the year.

D’Alema, who was in Baghdad to discuss the plans with Iraqi leaders, said Italy would begin reducing the number of Italian troops in Iraq this month.

Italy follows Spain, Bulgaria and other U.S. allies that have either withdrawn or reduced their troops in Iraq. Of the 150,000 foreign troops in Iraq, 130,000 are U.S. soldiers.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Josiah Degenstein
Lake Stevens man with alleged white supremacist ties faces gun charges

Storage units belonging to Josiah Degenstein contained multiple arsenals, according to police.

Maricel Samaniego, center, teaches English to Liedith Espana, left, and Nemecio Rios, right, at Liberty Elementary School in Marysville, Washington, on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. Marysville schools partner with Everett Community College to offer free English classes to parents of multilingual students. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Free English class helps Marysville parents lower language barrier

The school district partners with EvCC to teach practical classes on pronunciation, paperwork and parent-teacher conferences.

Firefighters works through rescue drills during the Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue’s annual Water Rescue Academy on the Skykomish River Thursday afternoon in Index, Washington on May 5, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Snohomish Regional Fire asks voters for two more commissioners

The district currently has seven commissioners, but it can keep only five. A Feb. 14 special election could change that.

Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

News logo for use with stories about coronavirus COVID-19 COVID
5 things to watch in Snohomish County as COVID public emergency ends

Snohomish County health care leaders shared what they’re concerned about when the federal emergency expires May 11.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

Most Read