The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

March 15, 2013

Police clash with Sunni worshippers in Baghdad

(Continued)

BAGHDAD —

"Several days ago, the authorities promised us that they would provide the people free access to Abu Hanifa, but once again the government officials failed to live to their promises," al-Taha said.

In the western province of Anbar, the heart of the protest movement that began in December, masked men arrived at the site of demonstrations in Fallujah, raising the flag used by predominantly Sunni rebels in neighboring Syria.

They also held aloft a homemade black banner flag very similar to that used by al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, suggesting that supporters of the terror group are trying to make their presence felt in the largely peaceful Sunni protests.

The protests in Sunni areas were sparked by the arrest of bodyguards assigned to Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi in late December. Sunni protesters complain they suffer from discrimination by the Shiite-led government.

In the country's north, gunmen ambushed a mini-bus that was carrying soldiers heading to their base, killing eight soldiers and wounding one, said police and hospital officials.

The soldiers were on their way to report to their unit located in the northern suburbs of the capital when gunmen sprayed their bus with bullets near the city of Beiji, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad.

During the afternoon attack, the bus was overturned and the gunmen shot at the soldiers, said police.

Earlier in the day, gunmen in the city of Baqouba broke into the house of Khalil Mohammed, a local leader in the Sahwa anti-al-Qaida movement, and killed him along with three of his sons, said police and hospital officials.

Baqouba is 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

The pro-government Sunni militiamen, known as Sahwa group, joined forces with U.S. troops to fight al-Qaida during the Iraq war. Since then, the group has been a target for Sunni insurgents who consider its members to be traitors.

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