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Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Four more killed in clashes after Iraq protest camp shut

AFP , Tuesday 31 Dec 2013

Clashes between security forces and gunmen killed four more people in Ramadi on Tuesday, a day after the closure of a sprawling anti-government protest site, police and a doctor said.

Three gunmen and an Iraqi army sniper were killed, while three other militants were wounded, the sources said, bringing the death toll from clashes set off by the closure of the camp to 14.

The violence came after Iraqi security forces dismantled the protest camp located near the city of Ramadi, where Sunni Arab demonstrators had gathered for more than a year.

As the camp was demolished, heavy clashes broke out in the Ramadi area, with 10 gunmen killed as some mosques exhorted followers to "go to jihad," or holy war.

The closure of the camp, which came just days after a deadly raid on a Sunni lawmaker's home in Ramadi, will almost certainly inflame already-widespread anger among Iraq's minority Sunni Arab community.

Later on Monday, 44 MPs announced that they had submitted their resignations, calling for "the withdrawal of the army... and the release of MP Ahmed al-Alwani," who was arrested on Saturday.

The raid on Alwani's house sparked clashes that killed his brother, five guards, and a security forces member.

Protests broke out in Sunni Arab-majority areas of Iraq late last year after the arrest of guards of then-finance minister Rafa al-Essawi, an influential Sunni Arab, on terrorism charges.

The demonstrations have tapped into longstanding grievances of Sunnis, who say they are marginalised by the Shiite-led government and unfairly targeted with heavy-handed tactics by security forces.

Violence in Iraq has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a period of brutal sectarian killings.

More than 6,800 people have been killed in Iraq violence since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

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