A Kurdistan government official was recently abducted by armed men in Baghdad who demanded the remains of fallen Hashd al-Shaabi be returned to Iraq. The demands were about the events of October last year, when Iraqi supported paramilitary forces took over the city of Kirkuk from Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Several casualties were had by both sides of the conflict and some remain listed as missing in action.
The official who was abducted, Bashar Mustafa a 60 years old and the current appointed deputy director of the National Olympic Committee of Iraq (NOCI), told local media that,
They told me that because of the fight between Hashd al-Shaabi and Peshmerga, a number of Hashd militants were killed and the corpses of many of them are still in Kurdistan. I was blindfolded and handcuffed. After two hours, they took me into an automobile. There, they took away my passport, ID card, and money. They did not leave anything in my pocket. After that, they took me to Baghdad – I knew I was in Baghdad due to the crowd and car horns. They told me that Kurds shall not stay in Baghdad, that no Kurd shall have posts in Baghdad. They asked whether any Arab has their own business in Kurdistan.”
The city of Kirkuk remains a topic of dispute and the current parliament elections are only increasing tensions between Kurdish and Iraqi citizens. Bashar Mustafa was kidnapped just last week but released the following day, he was visiting Karbala for a memorial service with friends when the abduction occurred. Mustafa heads the Boxing Federation of Iraq and is intimately involved in the competitions at a national level. The individuals responsible for his kidnapping have yet to be identified but the Islamic State has been ruled out as a possible suspect.
Featured Image Courtesy of Tasnim News Agency [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons