FALLUJA, Iraq - Thousands of mourners rallied on Saturday for the funerals of Sunni Muslims shot dead by troops as they rallied to demonstrate against Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Sunnis have taken to the streets since December to protest against what they call mistreatment of their minority sect, increasing fears Iraq could slide back into the kind of Shi'ite-Sunni bloodletting that killed tens of thousands in 2006-2007.Troops on Friday shot dead five people in Falluja, escalating the confrontation between the Shi'ite-led government and demonstrators in the Sunni-dominated western province of Anbar.
Sunni unrest has been accompanied by an increase in attacks by the Iraqi wing of al Qaeda. Four suicide bombers have struck over the last week, including one who killed a Sunni lawmaker in Falluja.
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