Iraq's Abadi orders 'immediate' probe into killing of officer at checkpoint

Brig Gen Shareef Ismaeel Al Murshidi was killed along with two of his guards and four others were injured

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi walks with officers as he arrives in Mosul, Iraq, March 14, 2018. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi has ordered an "immediate" investigation into the killing of a senior military officer by "undisciplined individuals" at a checkpoint north of Baghdad.

Brig Gen Shareef Ismaeel Al Murshidi, a brigade commander whose forces are tasked with protecting Mr Al Abadi and Baghdad's Green Zone, was shot dead on Tuesday at a checkpoint outside Samarra. State-sanctioned Shiite militias play a large role in securing the town, which is home to a major Shiite shrine.

The statement issued by Mr Al Abadi's office did not provide further details about the incident.

Two police officers in Samarra said the three-vehicle convoy ignored orders to stop at two checkpoints. When it reached a third checkpoint an exchange of fire erupted between the convoy on one side and militiamen and Federal Police on the other. The militiamen belonged to the so-called Peace Brigades, led by Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr.


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Two of Gen Al Murshidi's guards were also killed, while four others were wounded, they said. A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release information.

On Wednesday, Iraqi state TV aired the official funeral, which Mr Al Abadi attended along with the slain officer's relatives. Mr Al Sadr has sent a delegation to Samarra to investigate the incident.

When ISIL militants swept across northern and western Iraq in mid-2014, tens of thousands of Shiite men answered a call-to-arms by the country's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, to defend the nation. They played a key role in a number of battles against ISIL, which has since been driven from nearly all the territory it once ruled.

Today the militias number in the tens of thousands and are deployed across the country to maintain security, alongside the army and police.