Baghdad: Iraqi security forces arrested a Sunni Muslim member of parliament in the western city of Ramadi and clashed with his bodyguards on Saturday, killing at least five people, police sources said.
The dead included three bodyguards, a sister and a brother of the lawmaker, Ahmed al-Alwani, a member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc who has been critical of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the sources said.
"Army troops with police special forces were trying to arrest Alwani from his house, but fierce fighting erupted. Five bodies, including one woman, were taken to Falluja hospital," one police source said.
Police said a two-hour firefight broke out when bodyguards and members of Alwani`s tribe resisted police and army forces who went to arrest Alwani on charges of "terrorism" from his house in the center of Ramadi.
Alwani has been an influential figure in a Sunni protest movement centered in the western province of Anbar, where thousands of Sunnis have taken to the streets since last December to protest what they see as marginalization of their sect by Maliki`s Shi`ite-led government.
Lieutenant-General Ali Ghaidan, commander of Iraqi ground forces, told state television that security forces had also tried to arrest Alwani`s brother Ali, whom he accused of involvement in an attack that killed Iraqi soldiers in Anbar.
Ali was killed in the fighting, as well as one Iraqi soldier, Ghaidan said, adding that: "We treated Ahmed al-Alwani well. We told him that we had a warrant for his arrest, and arrested him." He said two of Alwani`s bodyguards were wounded.
No members of Alwani`s family could immediately be reached to give their version of events.
Violence in Iraq is at its worst levels since 2006-7, when tens of thousands of people were killed in fighting between Sunnis and Shi`ites.
Bombings, shootings and suicide attacks, many staged by al Qaeda militants, are a near-daily occurrence.