ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - A warrant was issued for the arrest of a commander of elite Iraqi SWAT forces and 20 of his subordinates in Kirkuk, a security source told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday.
According to the source, they are charged with terrorism for crimes including robbery, home invasion, and orchestrating both car bombings and assassinations.
The commander, Capt. Loay Mohamed Reda, and at least some of his team members have fled from authorities and are currently thought to be in hiding, said the source.
The warrant was issued after other members of the unit admitted to criminal activity with the knowledge of their superior, after being arrested and interrogated by government security forces.
On Sunday, twelve people were killed or wounded in a Kirkuk car bomb attack that targeted a candidate for the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections.
Following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence in the Kurdistan Region, relations between Erbil and Baghdad deteriorated considerably. In October, Peshmerga fighters were pushed from Kirkuk and other disputed territories by Iraqi forces and Hashd al-Shaabi militias.
Since then, Islamic State (IS) activities have increased, with a spike in guerilla-style tactics that include car bombs and the setting up of fake security checkpoints to kidnap residents and Iraqi security force members.
Editing by John J. Catherine