Protests Escalate In Iraq, Leaving 20 Dead & Hundreds Wounded

by Ritu Versha 5 months ago Views 624
Iraq protests
At least 20 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in clashes between the protesters and security forces across Iraq as widespread anti-government protests enter the third day.

On Thursday morning, riot police fired live rounds to disperse crowds who had gathered at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad - in defiance of the curfew - to protest against high unemployment.

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The widening protests over issues that plague everyday life in the oil-rich country, among them corruption, poor services, and unemployment, had erupted on Tuesday. Security forces, blocking roads, fired live ammunition and tear gas to push back protesters.

The protesters, numbering about 3,000, had tried to cross a bridge leading into Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies. Clashes in Baghdad stretched well into the night Wednesday, making it one of the worst security challenges since the defeat of Islamic State.

Much of Iraq woke up to a curfew and an internet blackout Thursday, after the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi declared an indefinite curfew in the capital Baghdad and many southern cities, following an emergency meeting with his national security council.

There are roughly 5,000 American troops stationed in Iraq to assist government forces fight the remnants of the Islamic State group there.

Demonstrations over similar issues engulfed the southern city of Basra last summer and effectively ended previous premier Haider al-Abadi's chances of a second term.

Abdul Mahdi now faces a similar challenge just weeks before his government marks a full year in power.

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