First Published: 2013-04-26

 

Maliki warns of sectarian civil war in Iraq

 

Three days of violence between security forces, Sunni protesters raises fears of return to all-out sectarian conflict.

 

Middle East Online

By W.G. Dunlop - BAGHDAD

The protesters have called for the resignation of Maliki

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned on Thursday of a return to "sectarian civil war" as 179 people were killed over three days and gunmen were given 48 hours to vacate a town they seized.

Maliki called for people "to take the initiative, and not be silent about those who want to take the country back to sectarian civil war," in remarks broadcast on state television.

The violence erupted on Tuesday when security forces moved in against anti-government protesters near the Sunni Muslim town of Hawijah in northern Iraq, sparking clashes that left 53 people dead.

A wave of subsequent unrest, much of it apparently revenge attacks for the Hawijah clashes, killed dozens more people and brought the toll by Thursday to 179 dead and 286 wounded.

The protest-related violence is the deadliest so far linked to demonstrations that broke out in Sunni areas of the Shiite-majority country more than four months ago.

The protesters have called for the resignation of Maliki, a Shiite, and railed against authorities for allegedly targeting their community, including with what they say are wrongful detentions and anti-terrorism charges.

On Thursday, attacks in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, killed two Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen, two federal policemen, and wounded two more, police and a doctor said.

And a roadside bomb in Jurf al-Sakhr, south of Baghdad, killed two patrolling soldiers, according to police and a medic, while a car bomb in the Shiite holy city of Najaf wounded one person, interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said.

Security forces also killed four gunmen in Qara Tebbeh, a town in Diyala province, while three were killed and two wounded, then arrested, in Kafak near the northern city of Mosul, army Staff General Ali Ghaidan Majeed said.

And three more gunmen were killed and three wounded when they attacked an army checkpoint at the entrance of Hawijah.

The toll from heavy fighting on Wednesday in Mosul also rose, with officers and a doctor saying a further 31 gunmen and four police were killed, bringing the total to 40.

Meanwhile, Majeed said that gunmen holding the town of Sulaiman Bek in Salaheddin province have 48 hours to disperse or face attack.

The gunmen swarmed into the predominantly Turkmen Sunni town on Wednesday after deadly clashes with the security forces, who pulled back in the face of the offensive as residents fled.

Local official Shalal Abdul Baban said Thursday that gunmen were still in complete control of the town but that the army was deploying reinforcements on the outskirts.

Majeed said intelligence information indicated there were about 175 gunmen in Sulaiman Bek -- 25 allegedly from Al-Qaeda, and 150 from the Naqshbandiya Army, another Sunni militant group.

The military said the operation in Hawijah that sparked the clashes was aimed at the Naqshbandiya Army, which it said had infiltrated the ranks of the anti-government protesters.

Two leaders of the Hawijah protest said on Thursday they would form a wing of the Naqshbandiya Army in response to Tuesday's killings.

"We in the Uprising of the Free People of Iraq announced our full loyalty to the (Naqshbandiya Army), so we can be an armed wing related to it, working on cleaning Iraq from Safavid militias," protest spokesman Hamed al-Juburi said.

Safavid is a pejorative word for Shiites.

"We will take revenge for the massacre of Hawijah," he said.

Protest organiser Abdulmalik al-Juburi said: "After they burned our tents and broke into our sit-in, we decided to join the (Naqshbandiya Army) as a military wing."

 

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali

Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border at any moment

Tunisian couple jailed for 'public indecency' over car kiss

Next round of Syria talks at end October

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe