Nine killed in clashes near Fallujah


At least seven protesters and two soldiers were killed yesterday in clashes that started after Iraqi army forces opened fire on demonstrators who had pelted them with rocks on the outskirts of Fallujah.

It was the first deadly confrontation in more than a month of anti-government protests by mostly Sunni opponents of Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

As a result, a curfew was imposed on Fallujah yesterday evening.

A security official said one clash started when protesters began throwing rocks at government forces at a checkpoint.

The forces opened fire, and demonstrators responded by burning army vehicles and two cars, one belonging to a lawmaker from the mainly Sunni Iraqiya bloc and the other to a local politician from Anbar province. Seven civilians were killed and 44 people were wounded, according to medical sources.

Videos posted online show a man being treated in the main Fallujah hospital and people trudging across open tracts of land with little cover from the intense rounds of gunfire.

Later, unidentified gunmen shot dead two soldiers and wounded one at an army checkpoint south of Fallujah, in apparent retaliation, and gunmen kidnapped three soldiers, a police official said. The Iraqi defence ministry later broadcast a statement saying it would punish those responsible for the gunfire.

– (New York Times)