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Middle East

Traffic police back on streets of Iraq's Fallujah: AFP

Sunni Muslim Iraqis who fled Fallujah with their families carry blankets and mattresses distributed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) NGO on January 6, 2014 in Ayn al-Tamer in Karbala province. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

FALLUJAH, Iraq: Uniformed traffic police have returned to the streets of Iraq's Fallujah, but gunmen remained in control of the Sunni Arab city on Wednesday, an AFP journalist reported.

Masked anti-government fighters were deployed in areas around the edge of the city, as well as on bridges and at the entrances to neighbourhoods.

The traffic police are lightly-armed and solely responsible for directing vehicles and controlling intersections, and appeared to be on the streets with the blessing of the gunmen, whose allegiance was not immediately clear.

Fallujah and parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi farther west have been outside government control for days -- the first time militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the height of the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion.

The violence in Anbar, which began on December 30 with the removal of a Sunni Arab anti-government protest camp, has killed more than 250 people -- the worst unrest to hit the province in years.

 

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