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Iraqi prime minister rejects calls for resignation

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has rejected calls that he resign amid intensifying fighting between Sunni Muslim militants and government troops.

Fierce fighting continues on Thursday near Iraq's largest oil refinery in Beiji, northern Iraq, and Samarra, about 100 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad.

Sunni Muslims and minority Kurds are urging Maliki to step down, blaming the policies of the Shia-led government for the rise of the militants.

Some Shia Muslim groups are also calling for a new leader.

But Maliki rejected the demands in a televised speech on Wednesday.

He says he plans to convene a parliament session on July 1st to start a process to form a new unity government.

Jun. 26, 2014 - Updated 10:45 UTC