Government denies mass arrests are linked to coup plot

Some 50 civil servants from Iraq's Interior Ministry were arrested for allegedly helping terrorists. The government denied previous reports that the suspects are Baathist sympathizers planning a coup against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (pictured).


AFP - A top Iraqi general said on Thursday that security forces whose arrest had been announced earlier in connection with planning a coup had actually been detained on suspicion of aiding terrorism.

"The office of the commanding general of the armed forces announces the arrest of 24 officers from the ministries of interior and defence who have nothing to do with an attempted coup," said a statement from General Qasem Atta, spokesman for Iraq's military command.

He said the arrests were carried out "following information that certain officers have aided terrorist activity, outlaws and henchmen from the former regime" of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Earlier an unidentified senior interior ministry official said almost 40 policemen had been detained accused of plotting a coup against the Shiite-led government and bringing Saddam's old party back into power.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning