Terrorists Trying to Infiltrate Into anti-Government Protests: Maliki

Iraqi protestors hold banners and wave national flag during an opposition demonstration in Azamiyah district of Baghdad, January 4, 2013.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned that terrorists are trying to infiltrate into anti-government protests in the western province of Anbar to provoke confrontations between security forces and the demonstrators.

Maliki’s office said in a statement that al-Qaeda and the remnants of former Ba’athist regime are trying to instigate violence disguised as protesters, warning of possible "terrorists attacks" against protesters. 

"The security agencies have learnt that armed terrorist groups plan to infiltrate into protests in Anbar to carry out terrorist acts with the aim of causing chaos and dragging the armed forces into a confrontation," al-Maliki's office said, according to independent Iraqi website Alsumariya News.

Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 23, when bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi were arrested on terrorism-related charges. In Anbar, protesters have blocked a major road in the province which connects Iraq to Syria and Jordan. 

The demonstrators allege that the arrests were made on sectarian grounds and demand an end to anti-terrorism laws. The government says it is up to the parliament to decide on abolishing those laws. 

On Wednesday, Maliki said Baghdad would use force to end the protests in Anbar. The Iraqi government says there are foreign agendas behind the protests. 

"I warn you against continuing [to block the highway] because this is against the Iraqi constitution. We have been very patient with you," Maliki said. 


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