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Iraqi Forces Retake Control of Sunni Town

  • VOA News

Civilians inspect aftermath of car bomb attack in Husseiniyah area of northeastern Baghdad, Iraq, April 25, 2013.

Civilians inspect aftermath of car bomb attack in Husseiniyah area of northeastern Baghdad, Iraq, April 25, 2013.

Iraqi security forces have retaken control of a Sunni town north of Baghdad after gunmen who seized it withdrew without a fight, as the death toll from four days of violence in the country reached 150.

Officials say the Sunni militants pulled out of the town of Suleiman Beg on Friday after negotiations with local tribal leaders.

The gunmen's seizure of the town on Thursday came amid a string of violence that began on Tuesday when government troops raided a Sunni protest site in the central town of Hawija. That raid left at least 53 people dead.

Dozens more were killed in subsequent unrest in western and northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, police say at least two bomb blasts hit Sunni worshippers as they were leaving mosques in western Baghdad following Friday prayers, killing at least 4 worshippers and wounding several others.

The violence is the deadliest in four months of protests by Iraq's minority Sunnis, who have been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a majority Shi'ite.

They accuse his Shi'ite-led government of marginalizing the Sunni community and unfairly targeting its leaders for prosecution and arrest.

Maliki has appealed for calm and dialogue, urging Iraqis in a televised address on Thursday "not to remain silent" about what he called efforts by terrorists to drag the country back toward a sectarian civil war.

Iraqi authorities have said the Hawija raid was aimed at cracking down on militants suspected of infiltrating the ranks of Sunni demonstrators.
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