Protests in Iraq Turn Deadly Creating Panic Over More Instability

Published October 3rd, 2019 - 11:10 GMT

At least seven people were killed and dozens were wounded during anti-government protests in Iraq, as security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters demanding jobs, improved services and an end to corruption. 

The violent clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Iraq indicate that the country could be facing a new round of political instability. Iraq has been caught in the middle of U.S.-Iran tensions in the Middle East, putting an additional strain on the fragile government in Baghdad.

The protests, organized on social media, started in Tahrir Square this week, initially driven by the high number of unemployment in Iraq. The protests began peacefully, calling for an end to corruption, improved basic services and more jobs.

But peaceful protests soon turned violent after security forces fought back demonstrators with water cannons, tear gas and live ammunition. At least seven protesters were killed and more than 200 were wounded. A 10-year-old girl was also killed when she was hit by a car speeding away from a checkpoint amid protests.

Officials announced that authorities have imposed a curfew in several southern Iraqi cities including Nasiriyah, Amara and Hilla after they said protesters attacked government buildings.

Also, Internet access was cut off across much of Iraq and social and messaging apps blocked amid the growing unrest.

The protests are the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s nearly year-old government. Abdul-Mahdi’s office released a statement saying it “denounces the violence that accompanied the protests and said measures will be taken to protect citizens and public property and that the government will spare no effort to fulfill the demands of the protesters.” 

The UN secretary-general’s special representative for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, expressed “grave concern” over the violence against the protesters in Iraq. She urged authorities to stop using violence as they handle the protesters stating that “every individual has the right to speak freely, in keeping with the law.”

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