Iraq: 36 dead after raid on Sunni protest sitePublished 10:36am Tuesday, April 23, 2013
BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces backed by helicopters raided a Sunni protest camp before dawn Tuesday, prompting clashes that killed at least 36 people in the area and significantly intensified Sunni anger against the Shiite-led government.
The fighting broke out in the former insurgent stronghold of Hawija, about 240 kilometers (160 miles) north of Baghdad. Like many predominantly Sunni communities, the town has seen months of rallies by protesters accusing the government of neglect and pursuing a sectarian agenda.
In an apparent response to the morning raid, militants tried to storm two army posts in the nearby town of Rashad, and six of them were killed, according to the Defense Ministry. Seven other militants were killed while trying to attack military positions in another town, Riyadh, according to police and hospital officials.
Outrage also spread through other Sunni parts of the country, including the restive western Anbar province, where demonstrators took to the streets and clashed with police.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki swiftly announced the formation of a special ministerial committee to investigate what happened in Hawija, underscoring the government’s concern over the incident.