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Iraqi police cited in slayings, abductions

BAGHDAD, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Iraqi authorities say they have broken up a murder and kidnapping ring allegedly set up and operated by Baghdad police officers.

Twelve officers were arrested two weeks ago when Iraqi investigators were probing a string of kidnappings around Baghdad and were led to a house in the Sadr City slum district where several of the officers were allegedly holding a man for ransom, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

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A spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry said the gang members admitted involvement in the killing of Maysoon Hashemi, the sister of Tariq Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents. Maysoon Hashemi, who was shot to death in 2006, was director of women's affairs for her brother's Iraqi Islamic Party, the newspaper said.

The police officers' arrests came one day after a sitting member of the Iraqi Parliament, Mohammad Daini, was charged with ordering killings, kidnappings and bombings, including a 2007 attack on parliament. The lawmaker denied the charges during a Monday news conference, the Times said.

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