Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – Yesterday in Kirkuk Iraqi police captured the remaining members of a gang specialised in kidnapping Christian doctors. The criminal organisation was made up of 4 brothers, arrested in various raids between December 11th and 13th. Tow unemployed relatives aided the brothers. All of the gang members have confessed to the crime. They are Muslims who have no connection to terrorist organisations, or Islamic extremism. They, themselves confessed that they chose the kidnapping industry to “make easy money, what’s more according to sharia taking money from a Christian is legitimate”. The group had a complete list of doctors and pharmacists, possible future targets.
The Chaldean Archdiocese’ excellent relations with other civil and religious authorities in Kirkuk greatly contributed to the capture. Committed to protecting the community, Church leaders frequently visit and meet with political parties, government authorities, Imam’s, Sheiks and police and National Guard commanders.
The medical profession has long been a target for terrorists and criminals throughout Iraq. Recently in Kirkuk 4 specialised doctors have been kidnapped. Their families were forced to pay extortionate sums for their release, amounting to thousands of dollars. Under increased pressure from constant threats 3 doctors had already left the city in the last few weeks heading for the safer climate of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Just this week in Baghdad unknown assailants killed the director of the psychiatric hospital 'al-Rashad', the nation’s most important clinic for mental health problems. These increasing attacks on the medical profession have forced numerous leading doctors and specialists as well as simple GP’s to leave Iraq, thus depriving the nation of their vital talents. In Mosul, for example, threats to male Gynaecologists, who are virtually extinct, have resulted in pregnant women being unable to find medical assistance for child birth.