October 14, 2007 / 4:24 PM / 12 years ago

Shi'ite groups say attacked Polish envoy, embassy in Iraq

By Mariam Karouny

BAGHDAD, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Two Shi’ite militant groups have claimed responsibility for deadly bomb attacks on Polish targets in Iraq, saying they were in response to the alleged torture of Iraqi detainees by troops from Poland.

In a video obtained by Reuters Television on Sunday, the hitherto-unknown Imam Hussein Brigades and Imam Moussa al-Kadhim Brigades said Poland, part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, had allied with the "devil" America to kill Iraqis.

Four masked men, all armed and with one holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, were seen standing in front of black flags bearing the names of their groups in Arabic script. One read from a prepared statement.

"The attacks are a clear message to Poland — Leave Iraq before you drown in its swamp as Britain did," he said, referring to Britain’s recently announced decision to halve its force in southern Iraq by next spring.

"We want to tell Poland that all its interests in Iraq will be targeted by our resistance, including the diplomats, companies and troops. We only exclude journalists," he said.

Poland’s ambassador to Iraq, General Edward Pietrzyk, was wounded in a triple bomb attack on his diplomatic convoy in Baghdad earlier this month. A Polish secret service officer and an Iraqi were killed in the attack.

Five days later a car bomb killed two people near Poland’s Baghdad embassy. There were no casualties among staff or damage to the building.

"The attacks are a natural reaction to what the Polish troops are doing in Diwaniya, from killing to detentions and torturing of the people in Diwaniya," the masked man said in the video, which was dated last week.



POLES DENY TORTURE CLAIMS

About 900 Polish troops are based in Qadisiya province, also known by local residents as Diwaniya, supporting the 8th Iraqi Army division and training Iraqi soldiers and police.

"Polish troops have never tortured anyone in Diwaniya. All proper procedures concerning detention are followed," the spokesman for Polish forces, Lieutenant-Colonel Wlodek Glogowski, told Reuters.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kacynski, facing a general election in a week’s time, has vowed to maintain Polish troops in southern Iraq, despite the attack on the ambassador.

In the video, the groups also referred to Poland’s former status as a Soviet satellite state.

"We know you were under occupation and how much you suffered, remember how much you suffered," the speaker said.

Qadisiya is in the largely stable Shi’ite south, which has escaped much of the sectarian violence that has ravaged the rest of the country but has been beset by Shi’ite infighting.

The two main Shi’ite militias, the Mehdi Army loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Badr Organisation of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), the largest Shi’ite party, have been fighting for control of towns and cities. (Additional reporting by Ross Colvin in Baghdad)



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