MOSUL, Iraq – About 400 Iraqi students rallied in this northern city on Tuesday to protest against detentions of civilians and against U.S. soldiers entering their homes and mosques.
"We gathered here today to let the world be aware of the U.S. army insults against our dignitaries, students and our mosques," said Yahiya Abid Mahjoub, the head of the Students and Youth Association in Mosul (search).
Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, was relatively peaceful in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein's (search) regime last year. But insurgent attacks have increased dramatically in the past several months and particularly since the U.S.-led military operation in November to retake the restive city of Fallujah (search) from guerrillas.
Efforts by the multinational forces and the interim government's security troops to pacify Sunni-dominated Mosul have had limited success.
In the past several weeks, the U.S. and Iraqi troops have detained dozens of suspects, while the U.S. military said two soldiers were killed in the city earlier this month when they came under fire from insurgents hiding in two mosques.
A statement issued during the protest said that "the students of the University of Mosul denounce today the random arrests against civilians, including clerics, women and students, and ... the raids against mosques and clerics' houses."
Also Tuesday, Iraqi security forces repelled another attack by insurgents as they attempted to seize a police station in the center of the city, the U.S. military said in a statement.
"An Iraqi police station came under attack by indirect and small arms fire during a coordinated effort by insurgent fighters to overrun the station in central Mosul," the statement said. "The Iraqi Police successfully repelled the attack."