Clashes erupt as Iraqi police dismantle Sunni protest site

Clashes erupt as Iraqi police dismantle Sunni protest site
# 30 December 2013 19:26 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Clashes broke out on Monday when Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Anbar's provincial capital city of Ramadi, police and medics said, APA reports.

Hundreds of gunmen and angry demonstrators fought with the army and police forces in the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah and other areas in the province, a provincial police source said, adding that at least two tanks and several military vehicles were burned by the clashes.

A medical source from Ramadi hospital told Xinhua that at least 10 people were killed and some 40 others wounded so far in the clashes, adding that the toll could rise as ambulances and all vehicles are not able to evacuate the casualties to hospitals due to the fierce clashes which blocked the roads.

In the morning, the state-run Iraqia channel said that "local police in cooperation with the provincial authorities in Anbar removed the tents from the protest site near Ramadi."

The move came after an agreement was reached between the security forces and the provincial officials, religious and tribal leaders, the channel said.

Tension has been running high in the Sunni heartland of Anbar after the Iraqi security forces captured the Sunni Arab tribal leader Ahmad al-Alwani and killed his brother. Al-Alwani is also a lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament.

The Sunnis have been carrying out a year-long protest, accusing the Shiite-led government of marginalizing them and its Shiite- dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their sons.

Alwani is one of the outspoken leading figures in the anti- government protests. Some opponent lawmakers have been demanding to lift his immunity, but their demand was rejected by the parliament

Separately, in the northern province of Salahudin, a police source told Xinhua that a car bomb went off on Monday morning near the house of an officer in Iraq's Special Weapons And Tactics forces in the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, killing him along with 11 people, including a number of his bodyguards.

In a separate incident, gunmen attacked a car carrying a soldier, a policeman and a civilian and shot them dead on a main road in the city of Shirqat, some 280 km north of Baghdad, the source said.

Also in Salahudin, gunmen opened fire on a convoy of the provincial rapid reaction force in the town of Yathrib, some 80 km north of Baghdad, wounding the force commander Lieutenant Colonel Nuri al-Azawi, the source added.

Salahudin province is a Sunni-dominated province and Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein.

In Baghdad, a civilian was killed and six were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated in Husseiniyah district in the northeastern part of Baghdad, a police source said.

In addition, three government- backed Sahwa paramilitary group members and three civilians were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in Baghdad's southeastern suburb of Nahrawan, the source added.

In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, gunmen shot dead Sheikh Qais al-Jubouri, a cleric of Sunni mosque, near his house at a village near the city of Maqdadiyah, some 100 km northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source anonymously told Xinhua.

Jubouri is the sixth Sunni Sheikh who have been killed in Diyala province during the past year, the source said.

Separately, a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with 300 kg of explosives was shot dead before he blew up his truck near a joint checkpoint near the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, the source added.

Also in Diyala, five people, including two policemen, were wounded in two roadside bomb attacks near Baquba, the source said.

Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, about 8,109 Iraqis, including 952 members of Iraqi security forces, were killed in the country from January to November this year.

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