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Iraq, on edge over violence, endures more bloodshed

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
updated 8:31 PM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
Angry family members react as they receive the bodies of victims killed in Hawija before their burial on Wednesday.
Angry family members react as they receive the bodies of victims killed in Hawija before their burial on Wednesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Latest fighting leaves four police dead and two more injured in Mosul
  • Gunmen control Sulaiman Pek after 19 people are killed there
  • Three soldiers are killed at a checkpoint in Kirkuk
  • Violence began when 51 people were killed in clashes between Sunnis and security

Baghdad (CNN) -- More violence engulfed Iraq on Wednesday as tensions rose between Sunnis and Shiites, with the latest bloodshed spurred by deadly clashes the day before in the town of Hawija.

Fighting between security forces and gunmen in Sulaiman Pek left 19 people dead.

On Wednesday, Sulaiman Pek was completely under control of militants, Ali Hashim, a member of the Salaheddin provincial council, told CNN.

Iraqi security forces withdrew from the town to prevent more bloodshed there, he said. Most of the gunmen are residents of the town, Hashim added.

In other violence, clashes erupted in Mosul between gunmen and Iraqi security forces in several neighborhoods Wednesday evening, police officials in Mosul told CNN. Mosul is a predominately Sunni city about 405 kilometers (252 miles) north of Baghdad.

At least four Iraqi police officers were killed and two more were wounded in Mosul.

In the al-Masaraf neighborhood in eastern Mosul, five family members were killed by gunmen Wednesday afternoon.

Separately, an attack on a police patrol in Tarmiya killed three people, including two police officers. A strike on a security checkpoint in Kirkuk left three soldiers dead.

Authorities believe the violence has its roots in Sunni anger over security force raids Tuesday in Hawija, in northern Iraq. The raids led to clashes between Sunni protesters and security forces. At least 51 people were killed and more than 85 others wounded.

In the latest violence on Wednesday night in Baghdad, at least two people were killed and nine others were wounded when a car bomb exploded inside a bus station in Hussainiya, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood, police told CNN.

Shiites, who make up a majority of Iraqis, dominate the government.

READ MORE: Deadly wave of bombings across Iraq ahead of elections

CNN's Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

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