Gunmen take control of Iraqi town after clashes

Gunmen take control of Iraqi town after clashes

Gunmen seized control late Wednesday of Suleiman Beik, a town north of Baghdad, hours after clashes erupted with Iraqi troops in the region, Al Jazeera reported.

Iraqi security forces have completely withdrawn from the town, which is now under the control of gunmen who belong to tribes in the area, the Qatari news television Al Jazeera said without elaborating, DPA reported.

At least five soldiers were killed earlier in the fighting in Suleiman Beik, some 170 kilometres north of the capital Baghdad, according to Shalal Abdul, a local police chief.

"A number of insurgents have also been killed and injured in the clashes, but their specific number is not known yet," he told the independent broadcaster Alsumaria TV. The identity of the gunmen remains unclear.

Meanwhile, a car bomb exploded late Wednesday in Al-Husseiniyah east of the Iraqi capital, killing at least eight people and wounding 21 others, the Iraqi News Agency reported.

The bomb was planted in a car park near a mobile phone market in Al-Husseiniyah.

The violence comes a day after at least 53 people were killed and 110 were injured in clashes that followed the army's crackdown on Sunni protesters in the town of Heweja, near the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk.

The clampdown has further infuriated Iraq's Sunni minority against the Shiite-led government.

Hundreds of mourners Wednesday attended a funeral for the people killed in Heweja amid heavy security.

"This is a real massacre," said Sheikh Abdullah Sami, a Sunni member of the Kirkuk local council. "Our young people were treacherously killed ... We want their killers to be punished."

The army said gunmen had infiltrated the anti-government protesters in Heweja.

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