Iraqi security forces in Diyala province arrested 51 suspected terrorists and criminals during a five-day security operation carried out across the province, police officials announced Friday (May 6th).
"The security operation also succeeded in thwarting a terrorist plan to target the oil derivative distribution center in the city of Baqubah a few hours before it was supposed to be carried out," said Diyala police chief Maj. Gen. Abdul Hussain al-Shemari.
Provincial police and the emergency brigade took part in the operation with direct support from the Iraqi Army. The campaign included the areas of Baqubah, Meqdadiya, Khalis, Balad Ruz and Medhatiya.
In a press conference held at provincial police headquarters, al-Shemari said, "The arrests were made according to the law and based on arrest and search warrants issued by the judiciary."
"The element of time was taken into account and was something that played a decisive role in their arrest," he said. "The intelligence that the police obtained from citizens and security sources was subject to change because of the swift movements of the wanted individuals who were changing their locations on a continuous basis."
Al-Shemari noted that a number of the suspects had been involved in acts of violence and terrorist attacks in Diyala, including a recent attack on a hussainiyah in Balad Ruz, an attack on a police station in Khalis and the killing of citizens on their way to Karbala two months ago.
The security operation also led to the seizure of three tons of highly explosive C-4 and TNT, medium and light weapons, Katyushas, mortars, Strela rockets and a number of vehicles.
"Thirty of the detainees are wanted in connection with terrorist cases; they represent different terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, Jaish al-Naqshabandiya and Ansar al-Sunna, while the other 21 will be brought to trial in connection with purely criminal cases," Diyala provincial police spokesperson Lt. Col. Ghaleb Attia al-Karkhi told Mawtani.
Al-Karkhi said Iraqi forces would launch other security operations in the near future, without announcing them in advance in order to protect such operations and achieve their desired goals.
Lt. Col. Majeed al-Jubouri of Diyala Military Operations Command said, "The detainees are now under investigation. We will discover new names through our investigations with them."
"The detainees will be allowed to appoint lawyers to defend them," al-Jubouri said. "As to those who cannot do this, the judiciary will name lawyers for them."
A number of citizens and clerics in Diyala welcomed the police's efforts to maintain security and stability.
"We should not stand idly by with our arms crossed and tongues tied about the achievements that are made by our brothers and sons in the security forces," said Sheikh Wael Mohammed, imam and khatib of Rahma mosque in Baqubah. "We have to help them and show them that we are grateful for them, and that our loyalty is for them rather than al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups."
"Recent operations by the security forces prove that they have the upper hand and that the initiative is now in their hands rather than terrorism," Mohammed added.
Mukhlis Salem, 38, a worker in Baqubah, said, "The arrest of more terrorists and the seizure of their deadly tools mean fewer blasts and more spared blood. The security forces are giving life to each citizen in their security operations against the terrorists and their malicious plans."
"This makes us sure that the number of terrorists will decrease little by little until they finally disappear," he said.