Fighting broke out when Iraqi police moved to dismantle a protest camp in the western Anbar province on Monday, leaving at least 13 people dead, police and medical sources said. The camp has been an irritant to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government since Sunni protesters set it up a year ago to demonstrate against what they see as marginalisation of their sect. Police sources said Monday's clashes broke out when gunmen opened fire on police special forces trying to enter Ramadi, the western city where the protest camp is located. Gunshots and blasts were heard in parts of the city. The gunmen destroyed four police vehicles and killed at least three policemen in the north of Ramadi, one source said. The bodies of 10 other people killed in the clashes were brought into Ramadi's morgue, hospital and morgue sources told Reuters
In Falluja, gunmen attacked army patrols deployed along the main highway leading to Ramadi.
Sheikh Abdul Malik Al-Saadi, an influential Sunni cleric who had previously called on protesters to remain peaceful, denounced the operation and called on security forces to withdraw immediately to prevent further bloodshed.