At least 40 people killed as fresh protests engulf Iraq

At least 40 protesters were killed in Iraq on Friday when security forces used tear gas and an Iranian-backed militia opened fire to try to quell renewed demonstrations against corruption and economic hardship, security sources said.

A government intelligence officer and a member of the powerful Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia were killed in a clash with protesters in the southern city of Amara, police sources said.

Nearly 1,800 people were injured nationally as demonstrators took to the streets to vent frustration at political elites they say have failed to improve their lives after years of conflict.

“All we want are four things: jobs; water, electricity, and safety. That’s all we want,” said 16-year-old Ali Mohammed who had covered his face with a T-shirt to avoid inhaling tear gas, as chaotic scenes overwhelmed Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square.

Sirens wailed and tear gas canisters landed in the middle of groups of young protesters wearing Iraqi flags and chanting “with life and blood we defend you Iraq.”

“All we want are four things: jobs; water, electricity, and safety. That’s all we want,” said 16-year-old Ali Mohammed who had covered his face with a T-shirt to avoid inhaling tear gas, as chaotic scenes overwhelmed Tahrir Square.

Sirens wailed and tear gas canisters landed in the middle of groups of young protesters wearing Iraqi flags and chanting “with life and blood we defend you Iraq.”

The bloodshed is the second major bout of violence this month. A series of clashes two weeks ago between protesters and security forces left 157 people dead and over 6,000 wounded.

The unrest has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq, which lived through foreign occupation, civil war and an ISIS insurgency between 2003 and 2017. It is the biggest challenge to security since IS was declared beaten.

On Friday, eight protesters were killed in Baghdad, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission said. At least five of them were protesters struck by tear gas canisters in Baghdad, security sources said.

In the south, at least six protesters died when members of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia guarding the group’s local office in Nasiriya city opened fire after protesters tried to set the office on fire, security sources said.

Eight people were killed in Amara city, including six protesters, one AAH member, and one intelligence officer, police sources said. One protester was killed in Samawa.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khalid al-Muhanna said at least 68 members of the security forces had also been injured.

The government has struggled to address popular grievances since sometimes violent demonstrations erupted in Baghdad on October 1, spreading to southern cities, in protest at what many see as a corrupt and incompetent political establishment.

The unrest has posed the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi since he took office just one year ago. Despite promising reforms and a broad cabinet reshuffle, the premier has so far struggled to address protesters’ discontent.

Source: Al Arabiya

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here