Saturday 19 October 2019

Police open fire on demonstrators as death toll rises in protests against 'corrupt' leaders

 

Demonstrators gather at a protest during a curfew, two days after the nationwide anti-government protests turned violent, in Baghdad. Photo: REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Demonstrators gather at a protest during a curfew, two days after the nationwide anti-government protests turned violent, in Baghdad. Photo: REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Ali Hafthi

Iraqi police fired live rounds to disperse crowds which defied a pre-dawn curfew to protest after 11 people were killed in clashes that have become one of the worst security challenges since the defeat of Islamic State.

Troops patrolled main roads and public spaces in Baghdad, but sporadic demonstrations had begun again in defiance of the curfew.

Clashes in southern cities more than doubled the death toll of three days of unrest, bringing it to 18. The demonstrations began in Baghdad on Tuesday and spread to other cities, mainly in the south. Police fired live rounds, tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters.

Protesters directed their anger at a government they say is corrupt and doing nothing to improve their lives. They demanded jobs, better services and called for the "downfall of the regime".

Curfews imposed in southern cities were lifted, local police said. Clashes during the night between protesters and security forces killed seven people including a policeman in Nassiriya, and four people in Amara.

Iraq has struggled to recover from the battle against the Sunni Muslim hard-line Islamic State group between 2014 and 2017.

Its infrastructure has been laid to waste by decades of sectarian civil war, foreign occupation, two US invasions, UN sanctions and war against its neighbours.

Irish Independent

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