World Bulletin / News Desk
Chanting "No" to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, tens of thousands of Sunni Muslims protested after Friday prayers in huge rallies against the Shi'ite premier that are raising the spectre of renewed sectarian unrest.
Sunni Muslim outrage erupted in late December over what protesters see as abuses and discrimination against their minority sect since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the rise of the country's Shi'ite majority.
Waving the old three-star Iraqi flag from Saddam's era, Sunni clerics, tribal sheikhs and young protesters called for reform of anti-terrorism laws they say security forces abuse to target Sunnis and unfairly detain prisoners.
Maliki has offered concessions, and freed hundreds of prisoners. But Sunni protesters have grown more defiant after soldiers opened fire at a Falluja city rally, killing five people a week ago.
"We will never forget what the army did to us, not only last Friday, but all of their behaviour has been sectarian against us," Omar Al-Jumaili, 51, in Falluja city. "Our new demand; the Iraqi army should leave this area."
The protests are evolving in the most serious test yet for Maliki and his fragile government that splits posts among Shi'ite, Sunni and ethnic Kurds, who were already deadlocked over how to share power for more than a year.
Islamic State of Iraq, still active after years of losses against American soldiers, has also urged Sunni protesters to take up arms.
A year after the last American troops pulled out, sectarian tensions are still raw in the OPEC country, where Shi'ite on Sunni violence killed tens of thousands of people just a few years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Maliki has appointed a senior Shi'ite figure to talk to demonstrators about demands such as an amnesty law and easing of so-called de-Baathification campaign against former members of Saddam's outlawed Baath party.
Iraq's vice premier Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni, said a meeting on Friday with Maliki's Shi'ite National Alliance coalition and Sunni-backed Iraqiya had been positive on proposed reforms.
"We can say there was a progress in this meeting, which may be hasn't happened in the previous ones," he said.
The Sunni unrest broke out just as Baghdad is struggling also with a dispute with the autonomous Kurdistan region over oil and land rights. That has complicated Maliki's attempts to build alliances with Sunni and Kurdish leaders.
The introduction of legislation announced to allow police power to seize passports of suspected fighters at the border travelling to Syria.
A poll for the Sun and the Times newspapers showed support for the pro-independence "Yes" campaign had risen to 47 percent
The Council aims to send 11 investigators, with a total budget of $1.18 million, to report back by March 2015.
NATO leaders will agree to pre-position equipment and supplies, such as fuel and ammunition, in eastern European countries with bases ready to receive the NATO rapid reaction force if needed
The choreographed staging of the interviews suggests that North Korea may be looking for a way to reopen a long-stalled dialogue with Washington
The meeting of the so-called "contact group", at which the rebels also said one of their key conditions would be for Kiev to immediately end its military offensive, ended without any details being announced
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) acknowledged the threat it faced from air attacks by unmanned U.S. drones, which require on-the-ground intelligence to guide them in
Equatorial Guinea's main opposition leader Severo Moto has been in exile in Spain for years and his Progressive Party of Equatorial Guinea remains banned
Ireland's contingent was due to be replaced by new Irish troops next month, but Ireland is to freeze the rotation
Zuma was due to meet Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to try to resolve a political crisis in the small mountain kingdom after an apparent coup
The swift end to the ISIL's encirclement of the Shi'ite Turkmen town of 15,000 came amid a push by Kurdish peshmerga, Shi'ite militias and Iraqi troops, after U.S. air strikes
The official Saudi Press Agency reported that the 17 were were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 2-1/2 years to 26 years.
Berlin has announced it will send military supplies that will arm more than 4,000 Kurdish troops.
Mohammad Mohaqeq, one of Abdullah's vice presidential running mates, told Reuters the two sides could not agree on the powers of the chief executive, blaming the Ghani camp for hardening its position
Before his disappearance, activist and lawyer Mudar Hassan Khadur represented a rare but growing voice of public dissent among Alawites
The group was being held at a centre for illegal immigrants near the capital Skopje and that Macedonia plans to repatriate the immigrants to Greece.