BAGHDAD - At least 26 people were killed on Thursday when Iraqi forces and Sunni Muslim protesters clashed after troops raided their anti-government demonstration camp near Kirkuk, military sources said.
The exchange of gunfire left six troops and 20 protesters dead during a confused raid on the camp in Hawija town, at least three military sources in the area told Reuters.
The ministry of defense said in a statement that troops responded after coming under fire from gunmen in the camp, without giving casualty figures. But demonstrators said protesters were unarmed when troops opened fire.
Thousands of Sunni Muslims have protested weekly since December in several Iraqi provinces to demand an end to perceived marginalization of their sect by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government.