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 Six Kurdish Peshmargas wounded in insurgent attack in Iraq's disputed province of Diyala

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Six Kurdish Peshmargas wounded in insurgent attack in Iraq's disputed province of Diyala  3.10.2011  

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October 3, 2011

DIYALA, — Six Peshmargas (Kurdish defense forces) were wounded in an insurgent attack in Diyala's disputed territories late Sunday night, sources said.

The Peshmarga forces have been stationed near the disputed multi ethnic areas of Diyala province since August after local Kurds complained they were targeted by the insurgent groups and the Iraqi army and police forces did not protect them.

"Late last night, several terrorists attacked a Peshmarga stronghold with hand grenades in Nawdoman area, located between Khanaqin and Jalawla districts (165 km north east of Baghdad) and wounded 6 Peshmargas" Irfan Hamak Khan, commander of the First Regiment of of the            

Kurdistan Peshmerga Brigade in the Kurdish city of Khanaqin, Diyala
Kurdistan Regional Government's Third Brigade told AKnews.

Fire exchange between the "terrorists" and the Peshmarga broke out following the attack, but the armed men have managed to escape. Hama Khan said the Peshmarga have launched a search operation.

The five wounded Peshmargas, all of whom local Kurds from Khanaqin and Kalar districts, have been transferred to hospital. Among them one is in a critical condition according to medical sources.

The disputed areas contested between Baghdad and Erbil have been the scenes of armed action since the 2003 war. Kurdish officials believed those areas are historically part of Kurdistan and therefore should be incorporated to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. Baghdad, however, is trying to extend its control over the areas.

Peshmarga had previously been posted there up to 2008 when disputes with the federal army forced their departure. Recently, Kurdish officials said some 500 Kurdish individuals had been killed in the disputed districts in Diyala since early 2011 which caused displacement of hundreds of Kurdish families.

Statistics administrative departments of the disputed areas in Diyala showed an increasing demographic change since 2003 which was interpreted by some Kurds as a plan to "re-Arabize" the Kurdish areas.

In 2003, Arabs formed 49% of Jalawla district. That figure has now jumped to 77%. The Kurds who previously formed 37% of the population now form only 18% of it.

In the Saadiya district, the figures are is even more dramatic: The Arabs who formed 33% of the district now form 82% of it, and the Kurdish component has dropped sharply from 31% to 0.7%.

In the town of Qaratapa where the percentage of t Arabs has increased from 52% to 66% between 2003 and 2011, the percentage of Kurds has fallen from 27% to 16%.

More and more Kurdish families are leaving the districts because, as they say, they are most vulnerable to insurgents.

The demography of areas such as Mosul, Kirkuk and Jalawla were altered dramatically by federal Arabization policies under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Indigenous Kurds and Turkmen were pressurized into leaving their lands to be replaced by Arab settlers from central and southern Iraq.

Many Kurds claim that their properties were confiscated by the government and handed over to the settlers.

Kurdistan Region’s President, Massoud Barzani, has met on Sept.22 the Mayor of Khanaqin township and other Kurdish personalities and citizens, in which he said that “the main target for spreading the Peshmerga forces in the areas belonging to Khanaqin aims at achieving protection for the inhabitants of the Township, belonging to Arab, Kurdish and Turkomen Communities,” adding that “their security missions does not aim to protect a certain community against another.”

Kurdistan’s Peshmerga Ministry had spread its forces in Khanaqin city of Diyala Province, after the escalation of the Kurdish demands on both popular and official levels to protect Kurds in those areas, considered among the areas in-conflict between Kurdistan government and the Federal government of Baghdad.

Diyala province, a restive part of Iraq outside the Kurdish autonomous region of Kurdistan but home to many Kurds. The Diyala district, which includes a string of villages and some of Iraq's oil reserves, is home to about 175,000 Kurds,
www.ekurd.netmost of them Shiites.

In June 2006, the local council of Khanaqin proposed that the district be integrated into the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

During the Arabisation policy of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, a large number of Kurdish Shiites were displaced by force from Khanaqin. They started returning after the fall of Saddam in 2003.

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas like Khanaqin.

Kurdistan's government says oil-rich Khanaqin should be part of its semi-autonomous region, which it hopes to expand in a referendum in the future. In the meantime, Khanaqin and other so-called disputed areas remain targets of Sunni Arab insurgents opposed to Kurdish expansion and vowing to hold onto land seized during ex-dictator Saddam Hussein's efforts to "Arabize" the region.

Aknews part of this article written by Bryar Mohammed

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