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Iraqi doctors plagued by threats, extortion

Iraqi doctors are living under constant threat of death and kidnapping by tribes and gangs seeking to extort them in what some suspect is a plot to empty the country of its scientific assets.

BAGHDAD — Doctors in Iraq are fleeing threats on their lives and extortion attempts, adding even more danger to a country battling the Islamic State (IS). In the news and on social media, pictures are surfacing of doctors' abandoned houses with death threats or demands for blood money scrawled on the walls and doors.

There are dozens of cases of this particular crime each year in Iraqi cities. In fact, in Diyala province, east of Baghdad, the Doctors Syndicate reported July 13 that 140 doctors had left the province in the last few years over repeated threats and assaults. A report published Nov. 16, 2014, by the Iraqi Ministry of Health stated that 10,000 doctors had emigrated from Iraq since 2003.

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