Iraq

Iraqis protest sectarian violence in Kut

baghdad blastTens of thousands of people have taken to streets in the southeastern Iraqi city of Kut to express their anger at sectarian violence in the country. The protesters, who were the supporters of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, chanted anti-US slogans during the demonstration. The demonstration was also aimed at marking the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. In an address to the crowd, Sadr, who heads a powerful bloc in the Iraqi parliament, warned people against being dragged into sectarian violence amid rising political tensions in the country. The incident comes as people in some western parts of Iraq have staged protests against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, accusing him of discrimination. Maliki rejects the accusations. Maliki has condemned some regional countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey as being responsible for fueling sectarian tension in the country. On March 14, some 21 people were killed and 50 others injured in coordinated bombings across Baghdad. On March 15, gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying Iraqi soldiers en route to a military camp in the town of Taji, north of Baghdad, killing eight soldiers and injuring one. According to some reports the string of attacks in Iraq this year has left more than 500 people dead across the country.

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