Iraqi Sunni ministers resign after deadly clashes

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Two Sunni members of the Iraqi cabinet resigned Tuesday after security forces moved in against Sunni protesters in the north of the country, sparking clashes that left dozens dead.

“The minister of education, Mohammed Ali Tamim, resigned from his post after the Iraqi army forces broke into the area of the sit-in in Kirkuk” province, the official from Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak’s office said.

“The resignation is final, and there will be no going back,” the official added.

Moments later, Al Arabiya correspondent reported that the minister of science and technology, Abdul Karim al-Samarrai, had also resigned.

Clashes between security forces and protesters at a demonstration near Hawijah in north Iraq left 27 people dead, while 13 gunmen died carrying out subsequent revenge attacks on army positions, high-ranking army officers said.

Tamim, who is a member of Mutlak’s National Dialogue Front and is originally from Hawijah, is the third Sunni minister to resign since March, and the second to do so after deadly violence at a protest.

Agriculture minister Ezzedine al-Dawleh quit on March 8 after a protester was killed in north Iraq, and finance minister Rafa al-Essawi, some of whose bodyguards were arrested on terrorism charges in December, announced his resignation at an anti-government demonstration on March 1.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Sunni-majority areas of Iraq for more than four months, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and decrying the alleged targeting of their minority community by the Shiite-led authorities.

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