Iraq minister quits after protester killed

Iraqi Agriculture Minister Ezzedine al-Dawleh resigned on Friday after a protester was killed in the north of the country, becoming the second minister from the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc to quit this month.

"I stand in front of my people... in Nineveh and I announce that I resign from this government, because there is no way I can continue in a government that does not respond to the people's demands," Dawleh, who was born in Nineveh province, told a televised news conference.

Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak told AFP that Dawleh had been considering the move for some time, but that a deadly shooting by security forces at a protest in north Iraq brought the issue to head.

A high-ranking official in the Nineveh governor's office told AFP that one protester was killed and five wounded on Friday, but said an investigation into who was responsible was still ongoing.

Activists meanwhile said that at least one demonstrator was killed when security forces fired on an anti-government protest.

Iraq's finance minister, Rafa al-Essawi, also from Iraqiya, announced his resignation at an anti-government demonstration on March 1.

"I will not be part of a government that has blood on its hands. I will not sell you (or) sell your rights," he said when he offered his resignation.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Sunni-majority areas for more than two months, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and decrying the alleged targeting of their minority community by the Shiite-led authorities.