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27 killed in clashes in North Iraq

27 killed in clashes  in North Iraq
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Kirkuk (AFP): Clashes on Tuesday in north Iraq between security forces and anti-government protesters allegedly infiltrated by militants left 27...

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Kirkuk (AFP): Clashes on Tuesday in north Iraq between security forces and anti-government protesters allegedly infiltrated by militants left 27 people dead and about 70 injured, top army officers said.

The clashes broke out around 5 am (0200 GMT) when security forces entered an open area in Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, where demonstrations have been held since January, the high-ranking officers said.

One of the officers, a brigadier general from the 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.

Protesters took to streets in Sunni-majority areas for more than four months, calling for the resignation of PM Nuri al-Maliki and decrying the alleged targeting of their minority community by the Shiite-led authorities.

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