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Curfew Imposed In Anbar After 5 Iraqi Soldiers Killed

Sunni Muslims chant "Allahu Akbar", meaning "God is great", during an anti-government demonstration in Ramadi on April 26.
Sunni Muslims chant "Allahu Akbar", meaning "God is great", during an anti-government demonstration in Ramadi on April 26.
Iraqi authorities have placed a curfew throughout Anbar province following the killing of five soldiers there.

Gunmen killed the five army intelligence soldiers April 27 outside the main Sunni protest camp in Ramadi, the provincial capital.

Reports say the gun battle erupted after the attackers stopped a vehicle carrying the soldiers near the protest camp. Two of the attackers were also wounded.

Major General Mardhi Mishhin al-Mahalawi -- the army's Anbar operations chief -- gave protest organizers in Ramadi twenty four hours to hand over the gunmen responsible for the killings or face a "firm response."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed his government would not remain silent over the killing of the soldiers.

Maliki's Shi'ite-led government has been the target of protests by Sunnis who feel they are being treated unfairly.

Iraqi officials have claimed the protests have been infiltrated by insurgent groups, such as Al-Qaeda in Iraq and supporters of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Tensions spiked earlier this week when fighting broke out in the northern town of Hawija during a security crackdown on a protest encampment. That action sparked clashes nationwide that left more than 170 people over the past five days.

Earlier on April 27, Maliki warned that sectarianism is an "evil thing" that can spread quickly in the Islamic world -- an apparent reference to the divisions in Syria.

In Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood, from which President Muhammad Morsi hails, condemned the Iraqi governments actions in the crackdown, saying it was neither the way "to achieve security and reform."

In further bloodshed on April 27, gunmen also opened fire on a checkpoint manned by Sunni fighters loyal to the government. Five members ot Sahwa militia were killed in the violence near the city of Tikrit, 130 kilometers north of Baghdad.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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