Iraqi troops shot five Sunni demonstrators who were protesting unfair treatment by the government.
The violence is likely to exacerbate tensions between the Shiite-led government and minority Sunnis angry over perceived second-class treatment and what they see as unfair policies targeting their sect.
Hours after the shooting, police said gunmen attacked an army checkpoint, killing two soldiers, in apparent payback for the earlier bloodshed. At least one army vehicle was set ablaze, and dozens of civilian gunmen were seen roaming the streets before local authorities imposed a curfew in the city.
Friday’s protest was part of a wave of rallies that first erupted in Anbar province last month after the arrest of bodyguards assigned to Sunni Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi, who comes from the area. Anbar is a former al-Qaida stronghold that saw some of the fiercest fighting against U.S. forces during the war.
The protesters are demanding the release of detainees and the cancellation of a tough counterterrorism law and other policies they believe overwhelmingly target Sunnis. Many link their cause with the broader Arab Spring and are calling for the downfall of the government altogether.