Iraq: At least 4 killed in Fallujah clashes


Anti-government protesters perform the weekly Friday prayer in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on January 25, 2013. The longest-running of the protests, in Ramadi, has cut off a key trade route linking Baghdad to Jordan and Syria for a month.



At least four people were killed in clashes between Iraqi troops and anti-government protesters in the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday.

CNN cited health officials saying troops had opened fire on Sunni protesters who were calling on Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down.

Health officials said in addition to the four killed, at least 42 people were wounded in the shootings, which took place in the Anbar province, a Sunni stronghold.

The New York Times also reported two soldiers being shot dead when unidentified gunmen opened fire at an army check point in Fallujah, in apparent retaliation for the earlier deaths. A police official said the gunmen also kidnapped three soldiers.

Anti-government protests have been going on in Iraq since December, with the Sunni minority in Iraq protesting what they view as unfair treatment by the Shiite-led government.

Sunni cleric Mohammed al-Dulaimi urged protesters to exercise restraint, according to the Associated Press. He accused al-Maliki's government of adopting policies that might divide Iraq.

"I tell the prime minister that he should stop neglecting our demands and stop violating our rights. ... Otherwise, the volcano will erupt," he said.

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