Iraqi troops arrest leading Sunni MP
29 December, 2013
RAMADI, Iraq: Iraqi security forces arrested a prominent Sunni Muslim lawmaker and supporter of anti-government protests in a raid on his home in the western province of Anbar, sparking clashes in which at least five people were killed, police sources said.
The violent arrest of Ahmed al-Alwani is likely to inflame tensions in Sunni-dominated Anbar, where protesters have been demonstrating against what they see as marginalisation of their sect by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shia-led government.
Alwani belongs to the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc and has been a strong critic of Maliki and an influential figure in the protest movement. Police sources said a two-hour firefight broke out on Saturday when bodyguards and members of Alwani's tribe resisted police and army forces who went to arrest Alwani on charges of "terrorism" from his house in the centre of the city of Ramadi.
They said those killed in the fighting included three of Alwani's bodyguards, his sister and his brother. "Army troops with police special forces were trying to arrest Alwani from his house, but fierce fighting erupted. Five bodies, including one woman, were taken to Falluja hospital," one police source said.
No members of Alwani's family could immediately be reached to give their version of events. Parliament speaker Usama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, called the operation a "blatant violation" of Iraq's constitution and a "dangerous precedent.