Seven killed in Iraq violence


Baghdad - Seven people were killed in Iraq on Friday, as protests by Sunni Muslims continued for a fourth month leading to a widening political crisis with the Shiite-led government.

Four people were killed and 14 injured in a blast and two separate gun attacks in the city of Baquba, around 60 kilometres north of Baghdad.

In Hilla city, south of Baghdad, three civilians were killed when a bomb went off in a vegetables market.

Iraq has witnessed near-daily attacks since US troops withdrew in December 2011, raising fears of a return to the sectarian tensions that drove the country to the brink of civil war in 2006

and 2007.

Thousands of Sunni protesters have been holding protests for more than 100 days to demand that Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki repeal laws they claim target Sunnis.

Thousands gathered in the northern city of Mosul demanding the government and security forces stop arresting protesters, Mohamed Abdullah, a cleric, told dpa.

“Protesters reject any negotiations with anyone from al-Maliki's government until the release of all those who were unjustly imprisoned,” he said.

In Kirkuk, thousands also took to the streets in Kirkuk city following the noon prayers to demand an end to executions and the release of prisoners.

According to US-based rights group Human Rights Watch, broad phrases in Iraq's 2004 anti-terrorism law “allow Iraqi authorities to impose the death penalty arbitrarily by encompassing even peaceful political protests within the vague ambit of 'terrorism'.”

London-based human rights group Amnesty International said Iraq imposed death sentences on most terrorism-related cases and carried out the fourth-highest number of executions worldwide in 2011, after China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. - Sapa-dpa



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