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Issue #1889      October 9, 2019


Police fire on anti-government protesters

More than 20 people have been killed in Iraq’s anti-government protests, medical officials said as the security forces attempted to stop demonstrators from gathering.

Riot police continued to fire live ammunition and tear gas to break up the demonstrations, which have spread across the south of the country since they began in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

Explosions were heard inside the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, home to government and embassy buildings, in the early morning – hours after it was sealed off for fear that it would be overrun by protesters.

The causes of the explosions in the city, recently rid of Isis violence, is not yet known, but investigations by a US-led coalition are underway.

Authorities have cut internet access across most of the country and set up roadblocks of barbed wire to stop protests from spreading further.

The demonstrations have been organised on social media, spontaneously and without political leadership, with participants being mostly young people and university graduates demanding jobs and improved services, such as electricity and water.

They have now started to call for the government to resign.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced a curfew in Baghdad to “protect general peace” and the protesters from “infiltrators” who attack security forces and public property.

The measure did not, however, stop hundreds of young demonstrators from gathering near Tahrir Square.

Unknown assailants shot dead activist and cartoonist Hussein Adel Madani and his wife Sara in their home in the southern city of Basra, security forces said. Madani had taken part in protests in the city only a few hours earlier.

Although there was no claim of responsibility, it is the latest in a string of similar assassinations targeting activists in Basra in recent years.

Amnesty International Middle East research director Lynn Maalouf said: “It is outrageous that Iraqi security forces time and again deal with protesters with such brutality, using lethal and unnecessary force.

“The state must commit to holding those responsible to account. This must not be yet another case of the government announcing an investigation or committee of inquiry which never yields any results.”

Ms Maalouf insisted that instead of meeting protests with force, authorities “must address grievances.”

Morning Star

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