One Killed as Iraqi Protests Rage on

Friday, 20 July, 2018 - 18:30 -

One Killed as Iraqi Protests Rage on

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People shout slogans during a protest near the main provincial government building in Basra, Iraq, July 20, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
One person was killed on Friday as fresh protests were held across southern Iraq against social and economic woes.

"A civilian around 20 years old was shot dead," a medical source in the city of Diwaniyah told AFP.

The man was killed during a protest outside the headquarters of the Badr organization, a powerful Iranian-backed armed group, in southern Iraq, it added, as authorities push to contain social unrest.

Shots were fired by a guard from the local headquarters of the organization where hundreds of people were protesting, the source stated.

The latest death brings to nine the number of people killed in the protests, according to multiple sources, while authorities earlier this week said more than 260 security personnel have been wounded.

The unrest erupted in Basra province on July 8 when security forces opened fire, killing one person as protesters demanded jobs and basic services including electricity.

Others killed during the protests were shot by unknown assailants.

The Iraqi government swiftly denounced "vandals" it accused of infiltrating the protests.

Thousands of Iraqis angry about poor services protested in southern cities and Baghdad on Friday, calling for the downfall of political parties as they escalated demonstrations backed by the country’s most powerful clerics.

About 300 people vented their anger in one of Baghdad’s main squares. One held up a poster which read: “The revolution of the poor.” Riot police used water cannons to try and disperse the crowd.

The crowds were broken up as they headed towards the fortified Green Zone, a high-security area of Baghdad where the government is headquartered.

“The people want the downfall of political parties!” they chanted, a slogan similar to one used in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, as politicians struggled to form a new government following a May 12 election marred by allegations of corruption.

“The promises they make are all lies,” said Khaled Hassan, 42, a health worker in Basra. “We will not keep quiet.”

On Thursday, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose bloc finished first in the election, said politicians should suspend efforts to form a coalition until the protesters’ demands are met.

Another influential cleric, Ali al-Sistani has also expressed solidarity with the demonstrators.

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