33 Killed at Sunni Protest Site in Iraq

'The peaceful demonstrations are over': tribal leader
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2013 9:13 AM CDT
33 Killed at Sunni Protest Site in Iraq
In this Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 file photo, protesters chant slogans against Iraq's Shiite-led government as they wave national flags during a demonstration in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

Some 33 civilians have been reported dead after Iraqi security forces took on Sunni protesters near the city of Kirkuk. Almost 100 people were wounded in the fighting, local officials say; the Ministry of Defense says 20 "gunmen" and three soldiers were killed and 75 people arrested. Sunnis across the country were furious after forces descended on the site, with some tribesmen calling for jihad, the New York Times reports. After months of protest against the Shiite government, "the peaceful demonstrations are over due to what happened today," said a tribal leader.

"Now we are going to carry weapons," he added. "Something bad will happen soon." Government forces had surrounded the protesters' camp for days; they sought gunmen who killed a soldier at a government checkpoint last week. Now, some armed tribesmen have reportedly seized government checkpoints as thousands protest. Meanwhile, some Sunni lawmakers are suspending their work in Parliament. The government, for its part, said its forces had killed "a number of Baathists and al-Qaeda members that have been coordinating with the protesters." (More Iraq stories.)

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