June 14 - Iraq's prime minister makes surprise visit to Samarra for talks with military commanders as insurgents seize large areas of the country. Paul Chapman reports.
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Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki makes a surprise visit to Samarra city, north of Baghdad, on Friday.
With large swathes of the north-west now under the control of insurgents he's been holding crisis talks with military commanders.
Samarra was also overrun but later re-taken by Iraqi forces.
Yet it's the Iraqi military Maliki has to worry about.
This amateur video posted on the internet purports to show tanks abandoned by government troops as Sunni insurgents advanced on Kirkuk province.
The video also shows what's said to be the headquarters of the army's 47th brigade.
The building appears to have been ransacked and windows smashed.
The footage can't be independently verified by Reuters.
Iraqi police backed by Kurdish forces were fighting back against the insurgents from a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
A Kurdish military spokesman said on Thursday Kurdish forces were in full control of Kirkuk city.
In contrast to the reports of Iraq's forces fleeing in the face of the insurgent onslaught more video also posted on the internet appears to show Shi'ite volunteers out in force to protect holy sites.
Again the footage can't be independently verified by Reuters.
At the same time civilians who'd fled the country's second-largest city of Mosul after it fell to the insurgents were seen heading back.
(SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) UM GHUFRAN, MOSUL RESIDENT, SAYING:
"They didn't harm us. They said 'we won't hurt the residents, we have our eyes on others, those who are responsible'. They didn't harm us."
There are fears the renewed conflict could lead to the break-up of Iraq into Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish territories
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