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IRAQ WARS
Clashes in north Iraq leave 40 dead
by Staff Writers
Kirkuk, Iraq (AFP) April 23, 2013


Iraq to hold postponed provincial polls in July
Baghdad (AFP) April 23, 2013 - Iraq's cabinet decided on Tuesday to hold provincial elections that were postponed in two provinces on July 4, a government statement said.

Iraq said the polls in Anbar and Nineveh provinces were postponed because security could not be ensured. All other provinces except the three that make up the autonomous Kurdistan region voted on Saturday.

If the security situation in the two provinces improves, the date for the polls will be reviewed, the statement added.

Iraqi forces were responsible for security on polling day, the first time they have been in charge without support from American or other international forces during elections since Saddam Hussein was toppled in a 2003 US-led invasion.

The lead-up to the vote was blighted by a rise in violence that left an average of 20 people dead per day in the six days before the vote, but security forces held unrest to a much lower level on Saturday, with three people killed and two wounded in attacks.

Iraq Sunni minister quits after deadly clashes: official
Baghdad (AFP) April 23, 2013 - A Sunni member of the Iraqi cabinet resigned Tuesday after security forces moved in against Sunni protesters in the north of the country, sparking clashes that left dozens dead, an official said.

"The 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, the official from Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak's office said.

"The resignation is final, and there will be no going back," the official added.

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

Tamim, who is a member of Mutlak's National Dialogue Front and is originally from Hawijah, is the third Sunni minister to resign since March, and the second to do so after deadly violence at a protest.

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.

13 die in revenge attacks on Iraq army sites: officers
Kirkuk, Iraq (AFP) April 23, 2013 - Thirteen gunmen died carrying out revenge attacks on army checkpoints in north Iraq on Tuesday after dawn clashes between protesters and security forces left 27 people dead, top army officers said.

The gunmen were killed in attacks on checkpoints in the Al-Rashad and Al-Riyadh areas of Kirkuk province, the officers said.

The attacks followed deadly fighting between security forces and protesters near Hawijah, also in Kirkuk province, in which 27 people were killed and about 70 wounded, the officers said.

According to the officers, the demonstration near the northern town of Hawijah was infiltrated by gunmen, but a protest organiser said no one wanted by security forces was present.

The organiser, Abdulmalik al-Juburi, said the Hawijah clashes sparked the revenge attacks.

"There have been fierce clashes which led to the killing of 13 revolutionaries against the policy of the government," Juburi said.

"When they heard the news about the killed and wounded in the sit-in, sons of the tribes from all the villages in Kirkuk cut the roads and attacked checkpoints and military headquarters and took control of some of the checkpoints for a short time," he said.

Deadly fighting hit Kirkuk province in north Iraq on Tuesday, with 27 people killed in clashes between protesters and security forces while 13 gunmen died in revenge attacks on the army, officers said.

Education Minister Mohammed Ali Tamim, a Sunni from Hawijah near where the clashes took place, resigned in the wake of the violence, becoming the third Sunni minister to do so since March.

The fighting was the deadliest to date linked to protests in Sunni areas that erupted more than four months ago.

The protesters have been demanding the resignation of Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and railing against the alleged targeting of their community by the authorities.

Tuesday's violence broke out around 5:00 am (0200 GMT) when security forces entered an open area near Hawijah, west of Kirkuk province's eponymous capital, where demonstrations have been held since January, according to senior army officers, who gave an overall toll of 27 people killed and around 70 wounded.

But accounts differed as to the spark for the bloodletting.

One of the officers, a brigadier general from the Iraqi army division responsible for the area, said the operation was aimed at Sunni militants from a group known as the Naqshbandiya Army, and that security forces only opened fire after they were fired upon.

A second officer said that 34 Kalashnikov assault rifles and four PKM machineguns were recovered at the scene.

Two soldiers were killed and seven wounded in the operation, while the remainder of the casualties were a combination of protesters and militants, the officers said.

Protesters, however, insisted the army had provoked the clashes.

Security forces "invaded our sit-in today, burned the tents and opened fire indiscriminately and killed and wounded dozens of protesters," Abdulmalik al-Juburi, a leader of the Hawijah sit-in, told AFP.

"We only have four rifles to protect the sit-in, and there are no wanted people among us," Juburi said.

The dawn violence sparked revenge attacks.

Thirteen gunmen were killed in attacks on army checkpoints in the Al-Rashad and Al-Riyadh areas of Kirkuk province, the army officers said.

"There have been fierce clashes, which led to the killing of 13 revolutionaries against the policy of the government," Juburi said.

"When they heard the news about the killed and wounded in the sit-in, sons of the tribes from all the villages in Kirkuk cut the roads and attacked checkpoints and military headquarters and took control of some of the checkpoints for a short time," he said.

Iraq's education minister quit in the wake of the clashes, according to an official from Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak's office.

"The 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, the official said.

"The resignation is final, and there will be no going back."

Tamim, who is a member of Mutlak's National Dialogue Front, is the third Sunni minister to resign since March, and the second to do so after deadly violence at a protest.

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.

Tuesday was not the first time that anti-government demonstrations in Iraq have turned deadly -- security forces killed a protester in the north Iraq city of Mosul on March 8, and eight demonstrators near Fallujah, west of Baghdad, on January 25.

Also on Tuesday, two roadside bombs exploded as Sunni worshippers were leaving dawn prayers in south Baghdad, killing at least four people and wounding 14 others, officials said.

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