ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A group of armed men on Tuesday robbed a government vehicle in Sulaimani which was reportedly transporting close to 1.5 million USD in civil servant salaries to a local hospital.
“A number of gunmen in a dark-windowed vehicle held up a van that was carrying the salaries of doctors and employees of Shar Hospital in Sulaimani,” a witness on location told Kurdistan 24. The incident occurred near the city’s busiest street, Orzdi.
Quoting a police source, Kurdish news outlet Xendan reported the amount of cash being carried in the vehicle at the time was close to 1.8 billion Iraqi dinars, which is the equivalent of 1.51 million USD. The report also claimed there were four robbers.
“Half an hour before the van arrived [near Orzdi], the robbers were waiting for them,” the witness added. He asserted the gunmen were wearing “masks” and “military uniform” and driving a “Nissan Patrol” SUV.
The culprits allegedly hijacked the van and dumped it near a cemetery in the southeast of the city of Sulaimani.
The brazen robbery comes days after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to the delight of public servants across the region, announced the end of austerity measures that saw government salaries slashed for the past few years.
The policy had severely affected the livelihoods of most of the Kurdistan Region’s workforce, as the KRG struggled with a financial crisis, the war against the Islamic State, and a reduced share of the federal budget which limited the government’s capacity to distribute public salaries.
Editing by Nadia Riva