Four people have been killed and nearly 20 others injured in clashes between Iraqi security forces and anti-government protesters in the city of Fallujah. Witnesses said a number of the demonstrators took to the streets of Fallujah, about 60 kilometers (35 miles) west of the capital city of Baghdad, on Thursday, trying to block a major road and hurling stones at the security forces. According to reports, Iraqi police tried to disperse the protesters by firing shots in the air.
Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 23, 2012, when bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi were arrested on terrorism-related charges.The demonstrators allege that the arrests were made on sectarian grounds and demand an end to anti-terrorism laws. However, Baghdad says it is up to the parliament to decide on abolishing those laws. On January 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned anti-government protesters that security guards could intervene to end illegal demonstrations across the country. “There is a difference between a peaceful rally and an act of disobedience and blocking off a highway,” Maliki stated. MKA/HSN