Eight killed in Iraq clashes over farmland

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At least eight people were killed in armed clashes in southern Iraq Wednesday when arguments over the ownership of agricultural land turned deadly, officials said.

The fighting broke out in Maysan province, with the violence centered in a village some 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of provincial capital Amarah.

Mohammed al-Saray, a forensics department official in Amarah, said eight people had died and a dozen others had been wounded, including women and children.

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A security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one group had “taken over state-owned agricultural land” and relatives from the same tribe were “demanding an equal share.”

In Iraq, where state institutions have been weakened by decades of war, tribes are powerful actors, particularly in its oil-rich south, where they have their own moral and judicial codes as well as huge caches of arms.

In Maysan, a province bordering Iran, drug trafficking, tribal disputes and political score-settling have combined into a toxic mix.

Violence is a common and police and judicial officials have been regular targets of assassination attempts.

On Monday, police announced a “joint security operation” with the army in Maysan to find those behind the assassination of a tribal chief, Sheikh Mohamed al-Faysali, who was killed outside his home.

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