Report: 'At least 26 killed' in Iraq protest camp

At least 26 people have been killed at a Sunni Muslim anti-government protest camp in northern Iraq according to the news agency Reuters.

There are conflicting reports of the number of casualties but Reuters said that three different military sources confirmed the deaths of six Iraqi soldiers and 20 protesters in a gun battle.

Iraq's defence ministry has not confirmed the death toll but said that troops responded when they "came under fire" from a makeshift camp in Hawija, Kirkuk.

Local officials claimed that the protesters were unarmed and demonstrating against the Shi'ite majority government.