Iraq PM visits Maysan after two officials assassinated

Gunmen have murdered a judge who specialised in drug cases and an Interior Ministry officer

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Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi visited the southern province of Maysan on Wednesday after the assassinations of two provincial officials in less than a week.

Amid tribal disputes and a growing drug problem that has turned the province into a major centre for traffickers, gunmen assassinated a judge specialising in drug cases and an Interior Ministry officer.

“We are going through complicated political circumstances,” Mr Al Kadhimi told a group of provincial security officials on his arrival in the area.

“No one is allowed to exploit this situation to create chaos during this important period of time.”

On Saturday, militants blocked the route of judge Ahmed Faisal Khasaf as he was driving home in his car and shot him 15 times in the head and chest with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Captagon Crisis in Iraq: 'Drugs and terrorism two sides of the same coin'

Captagon Crisis in Iraq: 'Drugs and terrorism two sides of the same coin'

A few days earlier, an Interior Ministry officer was shot dead by militants. Both attacks took place in the provincial capital of Amara, near government offices.

The prime minister called on all political parties, security forces and provincial dignitaries to “act immediately and shoulder their responsibilities”.

He said “chaos has no mercy and everyone will pay dearly”, insisting “that we all have to work together and co-operate to achieve the desired results”.

He vowed to hunt down the killers and bring them to justice.

This week, the government sacked senior security officials in the province and set up a provincial operation command.

“I will follow up with the joint security command in the province on a daily basis. All criminals will be arrested and handed to the judiciary,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

For years, Iraqi security and health officials have been warning that drug smuggling and abuse is increasing in the country while authorities are under-resourced to deal with the problem.

Top of the list is crystal meth, a synthetic drug. It comprises about 60 per cent of the country’s drug trade, according to government figures.

Then comes Captagon, followed by tramadol, heroin and hashish.

The province borders Iran and has emerged as one of the main routes for smuggling drugs to other parts of Iraq.

The province is also the scene of bloody tribal confrontations that can last for days.

The latest violence comes as political rivals have hit a roadblock amid the process of forming a new Iraqi government.

Updated: February 09, 2022, 4:11 PM