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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nearly 1,000 Iraqis demonstrate against al-Qaeda

Maybe the Iraqis are getting the hang of this 'democracy' thing?

Hundreds of Iraqi citizens poured into the streets of Samarra on Tuesday in a massive demonstration against Al Qaeda. Most estimated the crowd to numbering between 700 and 1,000.

The protest, organized by two major Sunni groups, the Iraqi Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars Association, blamed Al Qaeda for the deaths of some 40 Iraqi police recruits last week, according to Reuters, and condemned other attacks by the group.

The 40 men had reportedly been forcibly removed from the bus they were traveling in last week and shot to death in a large pit.

Vocal opposition to Al Qaeda in Samarra began last year after the death of a local tribal leader Sheikh Hikmat Al Mumtaz, head of the Albu Baz tribe, at the hands of Islamist nationalists.

One resident of Samarra stressed his condemnation of such killings, saying, "They should not target civilians."

To the satisfaction of the United States, many in the city, along with other Sunni strongholds, have shown growing interest in ousting foreign-influence Islamists from their midst.

"Nationalist groups made it clear that either they observe that or we will have to force them to get out of our areas," he added.

Another resident expressed approval, saying, "They will not allow Qaeda members to operate in Samarra any more ... They want to put pressure on them to leave."


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