Iraqi authorities have arrested 11 Shiite police officers for alleged attacks against Sunnis, including the murder of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's sister, a security official said on Tuesday.
The men are suspected of having killed or kidnapped a number of Sunnis at the height of the country's sectarian strife, said the official, who asked not to be named.
One of the Sunni Muslims killed by the gang of police officers in a wave of violence over several years was Maysoon al-Hashemi the sister of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf said.
"They killed people in broad daylight, in front of everyone, and used police cars to commit their crimes," he said.
He said the four men had admitted murdering Hashemi, who headed the women's section of her brother's political movement, the Islamic Party, the country's main Sunni group.
A gang of 12 people including 11 policemen was "implicated in murders and kidnaps of a large number of people in Baghdad," the official said.
The arrest of one policeman for involvement in a kidnapping led to the capture of all members of the gang, the security official added.
"They have admitted killing shopkeepers in the al-Karkh neighborhood and killing others in Karrada while they were on patrol," he said, adding that most of the attacks took place at the end of 2006.
Iraqi authorities on Sunday accused a Sunni MP of ordering a 2007 attack on the parliamentary canteen which killed eight people including a lawmaker from his own party.
Mohammed al-Daini, a member of the National Dialogue Front, dismissed the charges as a politically-motivated "fabrication" due to his party's defense of human rights.
The crackdown on police and charges against the legislator come after a strong law-and-order message and a sharp drop in sectarian violence propelled Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and allies to victory in local polls last month.
In January, Iraqi security services arrested 10 police officers accused of involvement in the killing of colleagues at the height of the sectarian violence in 2006, an interior ministry official told AFP on Tuesday.
Last year the police dismissed 24,000 people from its 560,000-strong force.
An attack in February 2006 on a Shiite shrine in the Sunni town of Samarra marked the start of an unprecedented wave of inter-faith killings among the Shiite and Sunni communities that left several tens of thousands of people dead.