Sunni protesters demand release of bodyguards

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The Independent Online

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in Iraq's western Sunni heartland following the arrest of bodyguards assigned to the finance minister, briefly blocking the main highway that links Baghdad with neighbouring Jordan and Syria.

The dispute threatens to exacerbate tensions with Iraq's Sunnis, who accuse the Shia Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, of marginalising them.

On Friday, the Shia-led government said it had arrested 10 bodyguards protecting Rafi al-Issawi, a Sunni, on terrorism-related charges. Protesters held banners yesterday demanding their release.