Iraq sees worst clashes this year

April 23, 2013

Gun battle breaks out in Iraq, Canadian police arrest terror plot suspects, and a car bomb rocks the French embassy in Libya. Today is Tuesday, April 23, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

A man is brought to a hospital on a stretcher after being wounded in a clash between Iraqi forces and Sunni Muslim protesters in Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed

Sectarian clashes intensify in Iraq. At least 23 people were killed when Iraqi security forces raided a Sunni Muslim protest camp in the worst sectarian clash since December’s demonstrations:

Iraq’s defense ministry said troops opened fire after coming under attack from gunmen in the makeshift camp in a public square in Hawija, near Kirkuk, 170 km (100 miles) north of the capital Baghdad. “When the armed forces started… to enforce the law using units of riot control forces, they were confronted with heavy fire,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

Thousands of Sunnis who believe they are marginalized by Iraq’s Shi’ite leadership protested against the Iraqi government in December. Iraq’s Sunni education minister resigned to protest Tuesday’s violent raid. Protest leaders said they were unarmed when government forces opened fire. Since U.S. troops left in December 2011, Iraq has struggled to divide power between Shi’ites, Sunnis, and ethnic Kurds.

Canada foils terrorist plot. Canadian police arrested two suspects and charged them with plotting to attack a commuter train, saying that the plan was backed by al Qaeda elements in Iran:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it had arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto in connection with the plot. Authorities said it was not linked to last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 200. Neither suspect is a Canadian citizen, and police did not reveal their nationalities.

Canada said there was no sign of a conspiracy between al Qaeda operatives and the Iranian government, but Iran still reacted with anger. Canada cut diplomatic ties with Iran last September over its nuclear program, hostility toward Israel and perceived support for terrorist groups.

Car bomb targets French embassy in Libya.  A car bomb targeting the French embassy in Tripoli injured two guards, marking the first attack on a diplomatic mission in Tripoli since Gaddafi fell from power in 2011:

Since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled by Western-backed rebels in late 2011, Tripoli and the rest of the sprawling desert state have been awash with weapons and roving armed bands but violence in the city has not targeted diplomats before in the way Western envoys have been shot at and bombed in the east of the country.

Libyan ministers said they would work with France to determine the perpetrators of the attack. No group has claimed responsibility, but al Qaeda’s north African arm, AQIM, threatened France last week over the country’s anti-al Qaeda efforts in Mali.

Nota Bene: Italy’s recently re-elected president is conducting urgent talks today that could put a new government in place by the weekend.


Kim Jong-un’s puppeteer – Both Koreas are ruled by women. (The Atlantic)

Defective detectors – A British millionaire was convicted of fraud for selling fake bomb detectors in Iraq, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, and Niger. (BBC)

Mars with a catch – A Dutch company is offering volunteers one-way tickets to the red planet. (CNN)

Culture war – Reuters columnist Mark Leonard argues that anti-gay marriage protests in France are symptomatic of a generational crisis. (Reuters)

Dirty Dubai racing – Horse-doping scandal roils Dubai. (The New York Times)

From the File:

  • Israel says Syria used chemical arms, probably nerve gas
  • Iran offers to be West’s “reliable partner” in Mideast
  • Two men linked to al Qaeda in Mali arrested in Spain
  • French parliament approves same-sex marriage law
  • Myanmar frees 56 political prisoners day after sanctions dropped

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