Not less than 26 folks have been killed in Iraq on one of many bloodiest days since anti-government protests started final month, medics and officers say.
Not less than 20 folks died when safety forces opened fireplace to clear bridges within the southern metropolis of Nasiriya.
One other 4 protesters died in Baghdad and two extra within the metropolis of Najaf, the place the Iranian consulate was burnt.
Iraqis have been taking to the streets to demand extra jobs, an finish to corruption and higher public companies.
The Iraqi army has introduced it’s establishing army “disaster cells” to quell unrest. The army command stated an emergency unit had been created to “impose safety and restore order”.
Not less than 350 folks have been killed and hundreds wounded for the reason that unrest started.
What occurred in Nasiriya and Baghdad?
The army had despatched reinforcements to sort out unrest in Nasiriya, the birthplace of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and a hotspot for protests.
Troops used dwell ammunition and tear fuel to clear sit-ins on two bridges, medics and safety sources reported, with protesters responding by torching a police station.
Amnesty Worldwide’s Center East analysis director, Lynn Maalouf, stated the scenes “extra carefully resemble a battle zone than metropolis streets and bridges”, accusing safety forces of “appalling violence in opposition to largely peaceable protesters”.
Agence France-Presse, quoting Iraqi state media, stated Mr Abdul Mahdi had now sacked Gen Jamil Shummary, one of many commanders despatched to revive order in Nasiriya.
Stay rounds have been additionally fired on the strategic Ahrar Bridge in Baghdad, sources stated, as protesters tried to cross in the direction of the so-called Inexperienced Zone that hosts the nation’s parliament.
In addition to the 4 who died there, greater than 20 folks have been wounded.
What occurred in Najaf?
Clashes broke out between protesters and police within the metropolis on Thursday, leaving two demonstrators useless and 18 extra wounded, medical sources stated.
Safety forces have been cracking down after protesters set fireplace in a single day to the Iranian consulate within the metropolis – the seat of Iraq’s Shia spiritual authority and the situation of the revered Imam Ali shrine, the place the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad is buried.
Protesters chanted “Iran out of Iraq” as flames engulfed the constructing.
Studies say employees on the consulate managed to flee simply earlier than protesters broke in. Iran swiftly condemned the assault and stated that the Iraqi authorities was liable for defending its consulate.
That is the second assault on an Iranian consulate in Iraq this month after an workplace within the Shia holy metropolis of Karbala was targeted three weeks ago.
Though Iraq’s anti-government protests have been directed primarily on the nation’s political leaders, lots of these collaborating have additionally expressed anger at Iran’s affect over Iraq’s inside affairs, which has steadily grown for the reason that US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Protesters accuse Iran of complicity in what they see as Iraq’s governance failure and corruption.
What is the background to the protests?
Mr Abdul Mahdi took workplace simply over a 12 months in the past, promising reforms that haven’t materialised.
Younger Iraqis angered by his failure to sort out excessive unemployment, endemic corruption and poor public companies took to the streets of Baghdad for the primary time at first of October.
After the primary wave of protests, which lasted six days and noticed 149 civilians killed, Mr Abdul Mahdi promised to reshuffle his cupboard and reduce the salaries of high-ranking officers, and in addition introduced schemes to cut back youth unemployment.
However the protesters stated their calls for had not been met and returned to the streets in late October.
The demonstrations escalated and unfold throughout the nation after safety personnel responded with lethal power.
President Barham Saleh has stated Mr Abdul Mahdi will resign if parties can agree on a replacement.