Thirteen dead in one of the 'worst' days of protest in southern Iraq
Thirteen anti-government protesters were killed Sunday by Iraqi security forces in one of the "worst'' days of clashes in the country's south, as protests swept through the oil-rich area, officials said. Demonstrators outraged by rampant government corruption and poor services burned tires and blocked main road arteries.
Seven protesters were killed in the southern province of Basra, near the Umm Qasr port, when Iraqi authorities used live fire and tear gas to disperse them, said security and hospital officials, who requested anonymity in line with regulations.
One security official in Basra said it was "one of the worst'' days since the start of the protest movement. At least 150 protesters were wounded in clashes across southern Iraq.
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Days of violence: despite promises of reform by the government, protests against corruption and mismanagement in Iraq continue. Once again on Friday people gathered in central locations in the capital Baghdad, as well as in the south of the country
Protests without end: following days of violent protests, a curfew was supposed to provide peace and quiet - after all, at least 100 people have died and some 1,600 have been injured. However, many demonstrators ignored the curfew and spent the night outside to protest further
Protests without a party: these are by no means the first protests against the difficult living conditions in Iraq. In some places, there are only four hours of electricity a day, and according to the World Bank, youth unemployment stands at 25 percent. Iraq's most senior Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani called for "serious reforms" before it was too late
Lockdown: there is already talk of the first protests "without flag, without posters and without party slogan". They were, however, obviously fanned by the dismissal of a popular general, Abdel-Wahab al-Saadi. In Baghdad, the demonstrators tried to enter the so-called Green Zone. Numerous government buildings and embassies are located in the high-security district
Allegations of police violence: security forces have been using tear gas against demonstrators since the beginning of the protests. The UN Human Rights Office in Geneva also fears that police officers have been using live ammunition and rubber bullets. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi came under fire when he praised the security forces and blamed the unspecified "attackers" for the violence
The country's president, Barham Saleh (photo, March 2019), reiterated his condemnation of the violence and called for "restraint and respect for the law". "Peaceful protest is a constitutional right granted to citizens," Saleh stressed. The Human Rights Committee of the Iraqi Parliament criticised the "repression" of the protests
Four protesters were killed in Nassiriya province and one killed in both Najaf, the seat of Iraq's Shia religious authority and Diwanieh provinces.
Earlier in Basra, which accounts for nearly 85% of the country's crude oil production, protesters burned tyres in the city centre cutting main roads. Nearly 90% of Iraq's state revenue is derived from oil exports, but there is no indication that the protest movement has impacted production.
Protesters had cut roads leading to Umm Qasr, the country's main commodities port, halting all trade activity. Security forces cleared the area of protesters on Thursday.
In Nassiriya on Sunday, protesters blocked key thoroughfares and main bridges with burning tires. Acrid smoke billowed from the city's Shia Endowment building, a governing body in charge with regulating the administration of mosques, when protesters set it alight. In Baghdad, at least 13 people were wounded as clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces continued for a fourth day.
Sixteen people have been killed and over 100 wounded in the renewed clashes in the capital, which kicked off Thursday as protesters tried to scale a concrete barrier on historic Rasheed Street prompting security forces to fire live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.
On Sunday, protesters carried the coffin of one dead demonstrator across Rasheed Street to the adjacent Ahrar Bridge. Protesters are occupying part of three strategic bridges - Jumhuriya, Ahrar and Sinar - in a standoff with security forces.
The international community, including the United Nations and the United States, have denounced the use of force against peaceful demonstrators in statements.
The leaderless movement seeks to dismantle the sectarian system and unseat the government, including Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. (AP)