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April 24, 2013

Iraq Violence Kills 30 as Sunni Militants Battle Troops

by VOA News

Iraqi authorities say deadly violence has left at least 30 people killed, mostly in a battle between Sunni militants and government troops in a town north of Baghdad.

Wednesday's fighting erupted in the Sulaiman Bek area, as Sunni militants confronted the troops in apparent revenge for a government raid on a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawija the previous day.

Officials said government helicopters were called in to drive out the militants from Sulaiman Bek. At least 15 militants and soldiers were killed. Another 15 people were killed in apparently unrelated violence Wednesday, seven of them in a car bombing in eastern Baghdad.

Tuesday's government raid on Sunni protesters in Hawija triggered fighting that killed at least 53 people. Authorities said security forces entered the camp to arrest demonstrators.

Iraq's minority Sunnis have been staging four months of protests around the country, demanding the resignation of the country's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. They accuse his majority Shi'ite-led government of arbitrarily arresting Sunni opponents and holding them without charges.

U.N. envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler has called for calm, urging security forces to exercise restraint and Sunnis to protest peacefully.