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BAGHDAD (AP) — Reports of brutality and torture of fellow Iraqis at the hands of government forces threw the country's political scene into turmoil Saturday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki attacking the leak as an attempt to malign him, and his rivals citing the documents as proof he is unfit to lead.
The trove of nearly 400,000 WikiLeaks papers includes U.S. military reports of alleged abuse by Iraqi security forces — some of which happened after al-Maliki became prime minister in May 2006. They were released as al-Maliki scrambles to keep his job, nearly seven months after national elections failed to produce a clear winner.
The accusations of abuse of what were likely mostly Sunni detainees at the hands of the mostly Shiite Iraqi security forces has reignited Sunni fears of another four years under al-Maliki, who was known as a Shiite hard-liner before he became prime minister. Al-Maliki has more recently tried to portray himself as a national leader above sectarian divisions but the WikiLeaks reports threaten to once again rip open the country's Sunni-Shiite divide.
In a statement, the prime minister's office accused WikiLeaks of creating a national uproar by releasing documents that it said were being used "against national parties and leaders, especially against the prime minister."
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