TUE 25 - 2 - 2020
 
Date: Jan 21, 2020
Source: The Daily Star
Three dead, dozens wounded in Iraq protests
      Qassem Abdul-Zahra & Samya Kullab| Associated Press      
BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live rounds during clashes with anti-government protesters overnight and Monday morning in Baghdad, killing three and wounding dozens of demonstrators, officials said. The clashes prompted authorities to close key streets and thoroughfares leading to the Iraqi capital’s center.

The violence is the latest since protests in Iraq reignited last week after a brief lull amid soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran following a U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad earlier this month.

Anti-government protests have similarly resumed in Lebanon after a brief hiatus, entering a new, violent phase as anger against a worsening economic crisis and politicians’ inaction mounts. Hundreds of people were injured over the weekend as security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes in downtown Beirut.

In Baghdad, the tear gas and live rounds were fired near Sinak Bridge and also the nearby Tayaran Square, which have been the scene of violence in recent days, medical and security officials said.

A gunshot wound killed one protester, while a second died after being struck in the head by a tear gas canister, medical officials said. A third later succumbed to his injuries, the officials said.

A statement from the Baghdad Operations Command said fourteen officers were wounded by a group of rock-throwing “inciters of violence “ while trying to secure the entrance to Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement. Among the dead was Yousif Sattar, 21, a local journalist covering the protest movement, one medical official and an activist said.

“Despite these actions our forces continued to exercise restraint and follow up on the security duties assigned to them,” said the statement.

A security official said at least nine arrests have been made so far after the National Security Council authorized security forces to arrest demonstrators seen blocking main thoroughfares and roundabouts.

The U.N. envoy to Iraq, meanwhile, urged Iraqi political elites to resume pushing for reforms and for protests to remain peaceful.

“Any steps taken so far to address the people’s concerns will remain hollow, if they are not completed,” said Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in a statement issued by the U.N. “Violent suppression of peaceful protesters is intolerable and must be avoided at all costs.”

In the southern city of Nasiriyah, protesters blocked the highway linking the city to the southern oil-rich province of Basra. At least six protesters were wounded when an unknown gunmen fired at them from a speeding car, a medical official said.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

On Sunday, protesters in Baghdad and southern Iraq burned tires, blocking main streets. Clashes in Baghdad wounded at least 27 people. Iraqi activists gave the government a week’s deadline to act on their demands for sweeping political reforms or said they would up the pressure with new demonstrations.

The uprising began on Oct. 1 when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to decry rampant government corruption, poor public services and a scarcity of jobs. Protesters are demanding an end to Iraq’s sectarian political system, alongside early elections and the stepping aside of its ruling elite.

Since the protests first erupted in October, at least 500 have died under fire from security forces.


 
Readers Comments (0)
Add your comment

Enter the security code below*

 Can't read this? Try Another.
 
Related News
U.N. envoy condemns use of hunting rifles against Iraqi protesters
Iraqi authorities reopen Baghdad bridge shut for months by protests
Hezbollah steps in to guide Iraqi militias in Soleimani's wake
In Iraq, protesters in last stand against a former ally
Iraq protest camps splinter over cleric's backing of new PM
Related Articles
The Iraqi people cry out for unity
The stalled effort to expel United States troops from Iraq
Could Turkey Moderate Iran's Influence Over Iraq?
Iraqi Kurdistan’s saga of executive offices in transition
A fractured Iraqi Cabinet: Abdel-Mahdi facing uphill battle
Copyright 2020 . All rights reserved