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9 killed in Falluja shelling

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
updated 12:26 PM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Falluja is in Anbar province and is predominantly Sunni
  • There has been persistent violence in the country of late
  • Along with the 9 killed, 17 were wounded in the shelling

(CNN) -- At least nine people were killed during shelling by security forces in the Iraqi city of Falluja on Thursday, city health officials said.

The shelling is part of an effort by Iraqi security forces to regain control of areas of the volatile city held by anti-government fighters, including militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Along with those killed, 17 were wounded.

More than 300 people have been killed and more than 1,300 others have been wounded in the fighting in and around Falluja, an Anbar province city west of Baghdad, since the beginning of the year, according to the officials.

Iraq has been beset with political and sectarian violence for months, often pitting Sunnis -- a minority in Iraq -- against Shiite Muslims, who came to dominate the government after Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003.

The United Nations said last year was the deadliest in Iraq since 2008, with more than 8,800 people killed. Most were civilians.

Tensions continue to be fueled by widespread discontent among the Sunnis, who say they are marginalized by the Shiite-led government and unfairly targeted by heavy-handed security tactics.

Falluja and the rest of Anbar province are predominantly Sunni.

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