Iraqi Minister quits in protest at
killing of scores of protesters in KirkukDeadly fighting hits Kirkuk province in north Iraq, with
scores of people killed in clashes between protesters, security forces.Originally from HawijahMiddle East Online BAGHDAD:
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.
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
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
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
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
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, said.
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
There have been fierce clashes, which led to the
killing of 13 revolutionaries against the policy of the government," Juburi
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.
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.