13 killed in clashes during Iraq protest camp removal
According to police sources, Monday fighting broke out when gunmen opened fire on police special forces who had been trying to enter the city of Ramadi to dismantle the protest camp.
One source noted that the gunmen destroyed four police vehicles and killed at least three policemen in the north of Ramadi, which is the largest city in Anbar.
Meanwhile, hospital and morgue sources said the bodies of 10 other people who lost their lives in the clashes were brought into Ramadi morgue.
The development comes as earlier in the day, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s spokesman, Ali Mussawi, said military sources confirmed tents at the protest site had been removed and the highway reopened.
He added that the removal was done “without any losses, after al-Qaeda and its members escaped from the camp to the city, and they are being pursued now.”
Iraqiya state TV had also reported that “local police are removing the tents from the protest site in Anbar” province following a deal with religious leaders and tribal sheikhs.
The Iraqi premier had described the protest site as “a headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda,” and urged the protesters to leave the camps.
Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 2012, when bodyguards of then finance minister Rafa al-Essawi were arrested on terrorism-related charges, with protesters alleging that the arrests were made on sectarian grounds.