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Kurds flee as secret police step up arrests

It was the knock on the door at 5am that convinced Ali Bresmani it was time to leave. Five Iraqi security officers armed with Kalashnikovs burst into his flat. “They searched the entire house. They looked in the cupboards. They looked in the refrigerator. They even searched under the duvet,” he said. “They were looking for hidden weapons or people.” The war in Iraq may not have started yet, but the exodus of refugees has already begun. Shortly after Iraq’s secret police called at his home in the northern city of Kirkuk, Ali decided to escape, travelling across a smuggling route into the western-protected enclave of northern Iraq. Over the past four days nearly 2,000 refugees have streamed out of Kirkuk, bringing few possessions, but laden with stories of searches, arrests and night-time disappearances. “The security officers left after 15 minutes. But they took away one of my neighbour’s friends in a Nissan car. God knows what will happen to him,” said Ali, 27, a Kurdish taxi driver. Full Story

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