Weapons can easily be found on the black market in many parts of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Photo: Ali Omar | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— A senior party official Saturday warned of escalating gun-battle in Chamchamal city and called for martial law to be declared for authorities to confront the recent surge in violence as the city was hit by multiple gun crimes over the past months.
Barzan Ahmed Kurda, who is a senior official with the dominant Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Chamchamal, said the city and its surrounding districts were in the grip of a sudden surge in violent crime that endangered public security.
“Although the situation is relatively under control since last week, but if it is not addressed swiftly, we should expect more violence soon enough,” Kurda told Rudaw.
At least five gun related murder cases have been reported to the police since early January this year, a significant increase compared to the same period in the previous years.
Chamachmal region, 30 kilometres east of Kirkuk, has a population of 250,000 and is a predominantly Kurdish inhabited area.
City officials have in the past asked for larger security and police presence in the region but no extra units have been deployed to the heavily understaffed local police force.
The special police force in the city has around 18 offices which is far below the average number of police units in other areas.
PUK’s Kurda told Rudaw the residents have now formed voluntary groups which will patrol the city as they wait for strengthening the local police office.
“We have been in contact with the Peshmerga forces and other local groups who will initially ensure security in their own neighbourhoods,” Kurda said.
There are no official data about the number of guns or people who carry them, but the ministry says the large majority of gun owners in the Kurdistan Region have no permission for their firearms.
Only around 3,150 gun owners in the Kurdistan Region have permits for their firearms, according to the interior ministry which issues licenses to gun owners across the Kurdistan Region in coordination with provincial authorities.