ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Bodyguards for Iraq's deputy prime minister wounded two people when they fired warning shots at Sunni protesters who pelted his convoy with bottles and stones on Sunday, witnesses said. The incident took place in the city of Ramadi in the western province of Anbar, to where Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq had traveled to address people in an attempt to defuse sectarian tensions. Thousands of Iraqi Sunnis have taken to the streets and blocked a main highway over the past week in protest against Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whom they accuse of discriminating against them and being under the sway of non-Arab neighbor Iran. "Leave! Leave!" the protesters shouted at Mutlaq, himself a Sunni. Mutlaq's guards opened fire to disperse the crowd after they threw objects at his convoy. Two people were wounded, the witness said. In a statement following the incident, Mutlaq said some "rogue elements" at the protest had tried to kill him. Protesters are demanding an end to marginalization of Iraq's Sunni minority, which dominated the country until the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein. They want Maliki to abolish anti-terrorism laws they say are used to persecute them. Echoing slogans used in popular revolts that brought down leaders in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Yemen, protesters have also been calling on Maliki to step down. A year after U.S. troops left, sectarian friction, as well as tension over land and oil between Arabs and ethnic Kurds, threaten renewed unrest and are hampering efforts to repair the damage of years of violence and exploit Iraq's energy riches.
Dec. 30 - Protesters attack Iraqi officials convoy as Sunni Anbar seethes. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). ( Transcript )
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