Iraqi police fired live shots into the air as well as rubber bullets and dozens of tear gas canisters Friday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters, sending young demonstrators running for cover and enveloping a main bridge in the capital Baghdad with thick white smoke. Eight protesters were killed and dozens were injured in Iraq’s […]
Iraqi police fired live shots into the air as well as rubber bullets and dozens of tear gas canisters Friday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters, sending young demonstrators running for cover and enveloping a main bridge in the capital Baghdad with thick white smoke.
Eight protesters were killed and dozens were injured in Iraq’s fresh protests, security officials said, Iran News reports according to AP.
The confrontations began early in the morning after anti-government demonstrations resumed, following a three-week hiatus.
The protests began Oct. 1 over corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services but quickly turned deadly as security forces cracked down, using live ammunition for days.
The protests then spread to several provinces and authorities imposed a curfew and shut down the internet for days in an effort to quell the unrest.
After a week of violence in the capital and the country’s southern provinces, a government-appointed inquiry into the protests determined that security forces had used excessive force, killing 149 people and wounding over 3,000. It also recommended the firing of security chiefs in Baghdad and the south. Eight members of the security forces were also killed.
The protests in Iraq threaten to plunge the country into a new cycle of instability that potentially could be the most dangerous this conflict-scarred nation has faced, barely two years after declaring victory over the Islamic State group.
Iraqi security forces and government officials vowed to avoid further deadly violence and deployed heavily on the streets of Baghdad in anticipation of Friday’s protests.
Thousands of people began converging to Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square early Friday, carrying Iraqi flags and posters calling for change and reform.
However, after thousands of protesters removed metal security barriers and crossed the Jumhuriyya Bridge leading to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the US Embassy and Iraqi government offices, soldiers fired tear gas to disperse them. After they tried to remove concrete barriers near the entrance of the Green Zone, they fired live rounds to push the protesters back.
Security and hospital officials said in Iraq’s fresh protests eight people were killed, five of them in Baghdad and three in the southern province of Nasiriyah. They said most of the deaths occurred as protesters were struck in the face by tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.
Hundreds of people were taken to hospitals, many with shortness of breath from the tear gas. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Protests spread to the southern provinces later Friday, including the flashpoint city of Basra where some 4,000 people gathered near the provincial government building.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews