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Sunni Minister Offers Resignation Following Deadly Iraqi Clashes


Iraqi Education Minister Muhammad Tamim (file photo)
Iraqi Education Minister Muhammad Tamim (file photo)
A Sunni minister in Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has offered his resignation after security forces stormed a Sunni Muslim protest camp, triggering deadly clashes.

Education Minister Muhammad Tamim submitted his resignation after at least 23 people were killed in the clashes at a protest camp in the town of Hawija, near Kirkuk, on April 23.

Iraq's Sunni Muslims have been staging protests since December, accusing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government of targeting and persecuting their minority community.

The Defense Ministry said troops responded after coming under fire from gunmen in the camp in the town of Hawija on April 23.

It said 20 of those killed were gunmen and three were security officers.

Demonstrators said protesters were unarmed when troops opened fire.

Maliki announced the formation of a special ministerial committee to investigate what happened.

In related news, Iraq's cabinet agreed on April 23 to hold provincial elections in the Sunni-majority provinces of Anbar and Nineveh in early July.

Twelve out of Iraq's 18 provinces held provincial elections on April 20, but voting in Anbar and Nineveh was suspended because of security concerns.

Iraq's government announced that elections will be held there on July 4 unless the security situation improved, in which case the date could be reviewed again.

The provincial elections were the first vote since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011. The results of the vote are expected in the coming days.

The suspension of voting in Anbar and Nineveh has increased antigovernment sentiment among Iraq's Sunni communities.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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