Gunmen attacked two Shiite homes in western Baghdad, killing 10 people, police said Sunday, while seven others died in clashes elsewhere in the capital.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred at about 11 p.m. Saturday in the mostly Sunni Arab al-Jihad neighborhood, two policemen said. The attack appeared to have been conducted by Sunni Arabs in retaliation for earlier attacks on Sunnis in the capital.
The policemen spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for their own safety.
Baghdad has been suffering from a series of attacks aimed at driving Sunnis or Shiites out of neighborhoods of the capital where they form a minority.
On Sunday morning, clashes erupted between Sunni and Shiite militants in Baghdad's mixed western Amil district, a policeman said. One Shiite militiaman was killed and six people _ five Sunnis and one Shiite _ were wounded, the officer said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
The clashes broke out at 8:45 a.m. when about 50 Shiite militiamen raided a Sunni neighborhood of the Janabat tribe, the officer said. The fighting ended with U.S. and Iraqi forces rushed to the area to contain it, he said.
The area is near a Sunni pocket of Hurriyah, another mixed neighborhood where fighting occurred Saturday.
Witnesses said Shiite militiamen entered Hurriyah after Sunnis warned the few Shiites living there to leave or be killed. Heavy machine gun fire was heard and three columns of black smoke rose into the sky, the witnesses said on condition of anonymity, also out of concern for their own safety.
On Sunday, hundreds of Sunnis who said that sectarian violence has driven them from their homes to seek refuge in schools, mosques and other dwellings held a demonstration in the al-Adil area of western Baghdad, demanding better protection from Iraqi security forces. The men, women and children in the demonstration marched down a street alongside a tractor carrying luggage of displaced people. Some of the protesters were hooded and carried machine guns.
Omar Abdul-Sattar, a member of the Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party, said Sunday that an organized effort was under way in Hurriyah to force Sunnis out, and he accused Iraq's Shiite-led government of doing little to stop the violence.
Speaking at a news conference shown on Iraqi TV, Abdul-Sattar read a party statement claiming that during the past five months more than 300 Sunni families have been displaced from Hurriyah, more than 100 Sunnis killed and 200 wounded, and at least five Sunni mosques burned, along with houses and shops.
He said the party rejected sectarian violence of all kinds, but he accused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government of protecting Shiite areas of the capital while ignoring the needs of mostly Sunni ones.
Source: AP News