Two Iraq Sunni ministers quit after deadly clashes

AFP , Tuesday 23 Apr 2013

Ministers of education, science quit after clashes between security forces and Sunni protesters

Two Sunni members of the Iraqi cabinet resigned after security forces moved in against Sunni protesters in the north of the country, sparking clashes that left dozens dead.

"Minister of education, Mohammed Ali Tamim, resigned from his post after the Iraqi army forces broke into the area of the sit-in in Kirkuk" province, an official from Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak's office said on Tuesday. "The resignation is final, and there will be no going back," the official added.

Parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi later said at a news conference that science and technology minister Abdulkarim al-Samarraie told him by telephone that he too was quitting.

Clashes between security forces and protesters in the morning at a demonstration near Hawijah in north Iraq left 27 people dead, while 13 gunmen died carrying out subsequent revenge attacks on army positions.

Later in the day, protesters west of Baghdad killed six soldiers and kidnapped a seventh, security officers said. The resignations bring the number of ministers to leave Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet since March to four.

Agriculture minister Ezzedine al-Dawleh quit on March 8 after a protester was killed in north Iraq, and finance minister Rafa al-Essawi, some of whose bodyguards were arrested on terrorism charges in December, announced his resignation at an anti-government demonstration on March 1.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Sunni-majority areas of Iraq for more than four months, calling for the resignation of Maliki and decrying the alleged targeting of their minority community by the Shiite-led authorities.

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