An armed clash in northern Iraq between security forces and anti-government protesters has left at least 26 people dead. The incident took place at a Sunni camp where demonstrations have been held since January.
Military sources said the exchange of gunfire broke out when Iraqi security forces raided an anti-government demonstration camp in Hawijah, outside the northern city of Kirkuk at around 5 a.m. local time (0200 UTC).
According to news agency Reuters, ensuing clashes left six troops and twenty protesters dead. A further 70 people were reportedly injured.
Army officials said the operation had been aimed at Sunni militants from a group known as the Naqshbandiya Army, and that security forces only opened fire after they were fired upon.
Protesters offered a different account, however, insisting that they were unarmed when the army instigated 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 news agency AFP.
Sunni Muslims have held weekly demonstrations against Iraq's Shi-ite-led government in several provinces since December. They have demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's, who they claim is responsible of the marginalization of Sunni's in Iraq.
ccp/ipj (AFP, Reuters, AP)
Bundesliga club Leverkusen can expect a big pay day if it wins progression to the group phase of the Champions League on Wednesday. The team goes into the return leg game against FC Copenhagen with a one goal advantage.
Berlin and Hamburg will go head to head next month as both cities present their concepts for the 2024 summer Olympic Games. The German Olympic Sports Association will also decide whether to bid for the 2028 summer Games.