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Iraqi Police Fire In Air As Sunnis Protest In Mosul

Iraqi Sunni protesters hold up a defaced portrait of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Ramadi on January 4.
Iraqi troops have fired in the air to disperse Sunni Muslim protesters in the northern city of Mosul.

The police fired the warning shots on January 7 as hundreds of protesters tried to gather in a public square.

The incident in Mosul comes as thousands of antigovernment protesters have taken to the streets in Sunni strongholds across Iraq over the past two weeks.

The protests tap into Sunni anger over what they say is the sidelining of their community by the Shi'ite-controlled government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Lawmakers from the Sunni-backed Al-Iraqiyah bloc, Maliki's State of Law Shi'ite alliance, Kurdish parties, and other Shi'ite parties were unable to agree on January 6 on talks in parliament to discuss the protesters' demands.

The demands range from Maliki's removal to fixing failing public services and amending antiterrorism laws they say are abused to target Sunnis.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters