BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government on Monday accused its Sunni vice president of terrorism, plunging the country into its deepest political crisis in years only one day after U.S. troops departed.
As an arrest warrant was issued for Tariq al-Hashimi, three men said on Iraqi television that they had worked as his bodyguards and had carried out bombings and assassinations, killing as many as a half-dozen people.
They said Hashimi knew what they were doing. But many Iraqis questioned whether the allegations rang true.
Neither Hashimi nor his spokesman could be reached for comment. Hashimi was in the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan holding crisis talks with Kurdish leaders.
Iraqi Kurds called for calm, as did U.S. officials in Washington. The charges came despite talks over the weekend among President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Sunni politicians and U.S. Embassy officials, which appeared to resolve the issue with the creation of a judicial committee to “thoroughly investigate” the terrorism charges.