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Friday, January 25, 2013

In Iraq, \'No Retreat\' Protests Turn Deadly

An Iraqi activists group, Herak, posted video from Falluja.

As my colleague in Baghdad, Duraid Adnan, reported on Friday, at least seven civilian protesters and two soldiers were killed in clashes that started after Iraqi Army forces opened fire on demonstrators who had pelted them with rocks on the outskirts of Falluja, west of Baghdad.

It was the first time that one of the antigovernment protests that have roiled Iraq for more than a month has led to deadly confrontation between the protesters, who are mostly Sunni opponets of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and government forces.

While the shooting deaths occurred in Falluja in Anbar Province, demonstrations spread to towns and cities throughout other provinces, as photographs and video reported by the Iraqi Spring Media Center and an activists group called Herak showed.

In Falluja protesters had tried to cross an army checkpoint on the outskirts of the town, and threw rocks at soldiers, who opened fire. Seven protesters were killed and 44 people were wounded, medical sources said. Later, two soldiers were shot dead in apparent retaliation at another of the town’s checkpoints. The media center posted video showing demonstrators trying t! o cross a checkpoint.

Iraqi media center says this video shows a man wounded in Falluja clash

Other videos showed people, identified as demonstrators, trudging across open ground in Falluja with little cover or gathered near barricades amid the crack of intense volleys of gunfire.

There were also demonstrations inNineveh, Salahuddin, Diyala and Kirkuk Provinces calling for government reforms, as well as in the Anbar Province town of Ramadi.

Video identified as footage of protest in Mosul

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.