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updated 2/20/2011 9:54:49 AM ET 2011-02-20T14:54:49

Gunmen burst into a Kurdish television station in northern Iraq on Sunday, shooting up the equipment and setting fire to the building, apparently in retaliation for the station's airing footage of a deadly protest earlier in the week, station officials said.

A group of 40 to 50 gunmen wearing military style clothes attacked the headquarters of NRT television in Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles (260 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, said Farhang Hars, a station spokesman. The station had been on the air for only a few days but had broadcast footage of a deadly protest this week in Sulaimaniyah.

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"The channel showed some footage from the last demonstration in Sulaimaniyah, and it seems our work annoyed some sides," said Shaswar Abdul-Wahid, the Kurdish businessman who owns the station. He did not elaborate on who he thought was responsible.

During Thursday's protest, security guards opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators that had surrounded the Sulaimaniyah headquarters of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani's political party and pelted it with stones.

Two people were killed and dozens were injured. Barzani's political party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said the guards were forced to defend themselves. Opposition groups described it as an attack against unarmed civilians.

The three provinces that make up the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq generally enjoy greater economic success than the rest of the country, but many Kurds are angry with the stranglehold with which the two ruling parties control the region's politics and economy.

Story: Kurdish guards fire on protest in Iraq, killing 2

Iraqis across the country have been following the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia intently and venting their anger against their democratically elected leaders over a lack of jobs, corruption and shoddy services.

The prime minister of the Kurdish region, Barham Saleh, condemned the attack in a press release and said it would be investigated.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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