Iraqi police opened fire Tuesday on hundreds of stone-throwing former Iraqi soldiers demanding monthly stipends promised by the US-led occupation, and reporters saw at least four protesters shot in the southern town of Basra.
The soldiers claimed they had not been paid a monthly stipend equivalent to $50 since September.
Protesters marched on the Central Bank and then tried to force their way in to get money, pelting the building with stones and then turning on police who first tried to stop them by wielding batons, according to the AP. Police subsequently opened fire.
UK forces arrived on the scene and eased down the situation, using loudspeakers to say, "You will get what you deserve, but not in this way." They did not fire, even after one was hit in the leg by a stone.
Meanwhile, in the hospital, officials said one ex-soldier had been killed, and relatives said they had come to collect the body of Abbas Kadhim, 40, a non-commissioned officer. Hospital officials said they were treating three injured men.
A spokesman for the British force based in Basra said he had reports of gunshots at the scene of the protest but did not know the source of the fire.
In the meantime, occupation spokesman Dominic d'Angelo said police and British forces based in Basra had been dispatched to the area to try to calm demonstrators outside the Central Bank building.
Elsewhere, two French nationals were killed and a third injured in a drive-by shooting in Fallujah, French foreign ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous said Tuesday.
The French nationals, who were in Iraq working for US companies tasked with rebuilding infrastructure in and around Baghdad, were driving in a convoy near Fallujah, 50 kilometers west of the capital, when their car broke down, diplomats said.
The occupants of a passing vehicle shot at the French men, killing two and wounding the third, the diplomats said.
In another incident, a policeman was killed on his way to a police station outside Baquba, 60 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, a fellow policeman said. (Albawaba.com)
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