(AINA) -- The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has announced that at 8:10 a.m. on February 23, 1997, Mr. Francis Harriri survived an assassination attempt. Mr. Francis Harriri is an Assyrian from northern Iraq and is the governor of the province of Arbil. The attack reportedly took place during Mr. Harriri's trip to the provincial headquarters in Arbil. Although Mr. Harriri survived the attack, two of his bodyguards as well as five civilian bystanders were reportedly wounded.
According to the KDP, their initial investigation points to involvement by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Specifically, the KDP has accused Mr. Kosrat Rasool, allegedly a PUK political officer, of masterminding the attack. The KDP has further suggested that the motivation behind Mr. Rasool's assassination attempt may have been the intentional disruption of the recent Ankara conference and ongoing peace negotiations in northern Iraq between the two warring Kurdish groups.
In their February, 1995 report on human rights abuses in northern Iraq since 1991, Amnesty International (AI) has listed at least sixteen victims of political assassination in northern Iraq. One of the victims was Mr. Francis Yusuf Shabo. According to AI, Mr. Shabo was "born in Mangesh (Duhok Province), married with four children. An Assyrian Christian of the Chaldean sect, he was an active member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement. He became a member of parliament after the May 1992 elections and was a member of the National Assembly's Economic Committee. He was also responsible for dealing with complaints submitted by Assyrian Christians regarding disputed villages in Bahdinan from which they had been forcibly evicted by the Iraqi Government and subsequently resettled by Kurds. He "was shot dead by armed assailants on 31 May 1993 as he approached his home in Dohuk, No suspects were subsequently apprehended."
Another victim mentioned by AI was "Lazar Mikho Hanna (known as Abu Nasir): an Assyrian Christian born 1933 in Mangesh, married. He "was a member of the Iraqi Communist Party's Central Committee for the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and was also a member of the three-person committee responsible for the Iraqi Kurdistan Front's financial affairs. He was shot dead byarmed assailants on 14 June 1993 near his home in Dohuk. No suspects were subsequently apprehended."
Regarding political assassinations, AI has noted that several Kurdish groups have established "assassination squads" in northern Iraq. "The security apparatus of the KDP, Rekkhistini Taybeti and that of the PUK, Dezgay Zanyari, are said to have units akin to assassination squads, whose members receive orders from senior party officials. There is also widespread conviction that such unlawful and deliberate killings could not have been perpetrated without the knowledge, consent or acquiescence of the leaders of these two parties, to whom the security and intelligence apparatuses are ultimately responsible." AI also disclosed "details of extensive surveillance operations of named individuals, as well as references to killings and attempted killings by the Islamic Movement in Iraqi Kurdistan (IMIK)."