12 killed in Iraq violence

Baghdad, Dec 29 : Twelve people were killed and 27 wounded in Iraq in violent attacks and an operation by security forces to arrest a Sunni lawmaker, police said.

At least five people were killed and 17 wounded in a clash between Iraqi security forces and guards of Ahmad al-Alwani, a Sunni Arab member of parliament in Iraq's western province of Anbar, Xinhua reported.

The incident occurred when a joint army and a Special Weapons And Tactics force, backed by helicopters, carried out a pre-dawn raid on the house of Alwani in the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, a source said.

During the operation, the troops exchanged fire with Alwani's guards who resisted the arrest and called the operation illegal as lawmakers enjoy immunity under the constitution.

"The clashes resulted in the killing of five people, including Alwani's brother and a soldier, and the wounding of 13 guards and four soldiers," the source said, adding that Alwani and a number of his guards were also arrested.

Later in the day, the Iraqi defence ministry said in a statement that the troops went to Alwani's house with an arrest warrant against his brother, who was among the killed, and they arrested Ahmad al-Alwani despite his immunity.

However, Alwani's tribesmen in his district denied the military statement and said that Alwani turned himself in to stop the bloodshed.

Authorities in Ramadi imposed a curfew and cordoned off the district, while thousands of residents were mourning Alwani's brother and the other victims, the source added.

The latest move by the security forces heightened the existing tension in Anbar province, the heartland of Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

The Sunnis have been carrying out a year-long protest, accusing the Shiite-led government of marginalising them and its Shiite-dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their sons.

Alwani himself is one of the outspoken leading figures in the anti-government protests. Some opponent lawmakers have been demanding lifting his immunity, but their demand was rejected by the parliament.

Also in Anbar province, a police officer was killed and three policemen were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion near their vehicle in the southern city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, a provincial police source said.

In northern Iraq, four suicide bombers were killed by policemen when they tried to storm a police station in the city of Hamam al-Alil, some 50 km south of Nineveh's provincial capital city of Mosul, which is about 400 km north of Baghdad.

Two of the bombers blew up their explosive vests at the entrance of the station but the two others were shot dead by the guards, the source said, adding that the blasts killed two policemen and wounded seven others.

Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, 8,109 Iraqis, including 952 members of Iraqi security forces, were killed in the country from January to November this year.

--IANS (Posted on 29-12-2013)

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