BAGHDAD, Dec 18, 2008 (AFP) - Iraq has arrested about 50 interior ministry officials for plotting a coup against the Shiite-led government, a senior Iraqi security official said on Thursday.
"Fifty interior ministry civil servants, including senior officials, were arrested over the past three days for trying to topple the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Among those seized was General Ahmad Abul Rif, the ministry's security chief, he said.
"They were linked to the Al-Awda (The Return), a clandestine group that was working to bring the Baath Party back into power," he said.
The New York Times reported that a top interior ministry official said those arrested with Al-Awda links had paid bribes to be recruited and arresting officers had found substantial amounts of money in raids.