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Iraq's Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc is boycotting parliament and Tariq al-Hashemi, the country's Sunni vice-president, has fled to the Kurdish-controlled north to avoid arrest on terrorism charges.

Hashemi says most of his staff were arrested and some tortured, adding that further Sunni persecution and the lack of a state-supported peace plan could lead to civil war against the majority Shia government.

Iraq's religious tensions are worsening, and both Sunnis and Shias have been killed in attacks across the country.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports from Irbil in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region.

Source: Al Jazeera