At least 13 dead after Iraqi police tear down Sunni Muslim protest camp

Iraqis march during a protest against the arrest of MP Ahmed al-Alwani in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, on December 28, 2013.

At least 13 people are dead following the tearing down of a Sunni Muslim camp in western Anbar province by Iraqi police on Monday.

The camp was erected a year ago in Ramadi by Sunni protesters. They wanted to draw attention to what they claim is the marginalization of their sect by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shia Muslim-led government.

Maliki had accused protesters of sheltering Al Qaeda-linked militants at the camp. Eight days ago, he ordered the Sunnis to evacuate the camp because it had become "a headquarters and a cover" for Al Qaeda.

Sunni gunmen destroyed four police vehicles and killed at least three policemen as police entered Ramadi to clear the camp Monday.

Iraqi security forces killed 10 gunmen and wounded at least 30 more, Dr. Ahmed al-Ani of Ramadi hospital told Agence France-Presse.

Denouncing Maliki's government as a "sectarian government that wants to smash and eradicate the Sunni people in its country,” Sheikh Abdul Malik Al-Saadi, an influential Sunni cleric, urged Sunni ministers and parliament members to resign to protest the operation.

Forty-four Iraqi MPs announced their resignations on Monday. The parliament members demanded "the withdrawal of the army... and the release of MP Ahmed al-Alwani," a Sunni who was arrested by the government on Saturday.

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