Sulaimaniyah, Iraq (AFP) April 17, 2011
Thirty-one people were injured, seven of them by live bullets, as demonstrators clashed with security forces in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah on Sunday, a medical official said.
"There were seven policemen and 24 demonstrators among the injured, including seven protesters wounded by live bullets," said Ricot Hama Rashid, director of the city's main hospital.
Two local journalists were also among those hurt in the clashes which broke out after protesters blocked the main Mowlawi street in the Kurdish city, 240 kilometres (170 miles) north of Baghdad.
The city has seen nearly daily demonstrations since mid-February.
Protesters have been calling for an end to official corruption, resignation of the regional government and an investigation into the deaths of three young demonstrators in clashes with security forces in February.
Five people have been killed -- including two policemen -- and more than 100 injured during two months of demonstrations.
Protests around Iraq against poor basic services such as electricity grew after uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt toppled entrenched regimes in those countries and spread across the Arab world early this year.
Since then, protests have erupted in different parts of Iraq at least every week, especially in the autonomous Kurdish north.
But unlike the unrest and uprisings in other Arab countries, protesters in Iraq have not been demanding regime change, only reforms and better living conditions.
Last week, Amnesty International said that Iraqi authorities must stop intimidation and the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters demanding reforms, jobs, better services and an end to corruption.
earlier related report
"Just four years ago, a terrorist insurgency was killing innocent civilians and wreaking havoc across the country," Boehner, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, said from Iraq in a statement release by his office in Washington.
"Today Iraq is a different country" as the last remaining US forces there prepared to depart by year's end, said Boehner, who traveled to Iraq over the weekend as part of a six-member congressional delegation.
"By taking the fight to Al-Qaeda, the insurgency, and other terrorist threats, our men and women in uniform succeeded in providing greater security to the Iraqi population and giving the government the time to build capacity to more effectively meet the needs of the Iraqi people."
He said the members of Congress during their trip met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, US ambassador James Jeffrey, as well as top US military commanders.
"Our first priority must be ensuring that the remaining 46,000 US forces and their civilian counterparts that are working with the government of Iraq and advising and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces have the resources and support they need to complete their mission," Boehner said in his statement.
"It is also critically important that we continue to assist and engage with the Iraqi government to ensure that the hard-fought gains in a post-combat Iraq translate into long-term success."
But even as Boehner issued his statement, Iraq was beset by new violence, as bombs and gunmen killed six people on Sunday, four of them from the same family, security sources there said.
The four family members -- parents and two daughters in their 20s -- were all shot in the head overnight by gunmen who spared a third, seven-year-old daughter, interior ministry and security officials said.
Violence has sharply fallen in Iraq since its peak during sectarian killings of 2006 and 2007, but bombings, shootings and kidnappings remain common.
Also on Sunday, magnetic "sticky bombs" attached to cars killed two civilians and wounded another in Kirkuk, a violence-prone, religiously and ethnically diverse northern province, senior police officials said.
And in the western part of Kirkuk, police said they found the corpse of the leader of an anti-Al-Qaeda militia who was kidnapped a week ago. It was unclear when he was slain.
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Maliki tells US's Boehner Iraqi troops are ready
Baghdad (AFP) April 16, 2011
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki insisted Iraqi forces were capable of maintaining security in the country during talks with US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner in Baghdad on Saturday. Maliki's evening meeting with Boehner and other US officials came around a week after Defence Secretary Robert Gates said time was running out for Iraq to ask if American forces could stay beyond an ... read more
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