At least 2 protesters killed in Baghdad's Green Zone breach: Officials
Iran Press TV
Sat May 21, 2016 3:12PM
At least two anti-government protesters have been killed when Iraqi forces opened fire on a group of reform-seeking demonstrators in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, officials say.
Nearly 60 people were also wounded in the Friday unrest, in which forces used tear gas, water cannons and sound bombs against protesters who broke into the high-security Green Zone area of Baghdad which houses government buildings, parliament and embassies.
Protesters broke into the Green Zone for the second time in three weeks, challenging the government's ability to secure the capital.
Earlier reports quoting medical sources said that at least four anti-government protesters were killed and 90 others wounded in the unrest.
Demonstrators, mostly the supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, are upset with the government's failure to approve anti-corruption reforms and maintain security in Baghdad.
The breach also prompted the government to declare a curfew in the capital, only to be lifted hours later by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Meanwhile, Jaafar al-Moussawi, deputy leader of Sadr's political movement, condemned the government for using what he called "excessive force."
"Using live bullets against peaceful protesters is completely unjustified and stark evidence that a supposedly legitimate government has turned into an oppressive government," Moussawi said in a statement on Saturday.
The United Nations also expressed "deep concern" about the incident and warned it could hamper efforts to defeat Daesh, which is wreaking havoc in parts of Iraq.
"Only the enemies of Iraq, Daesh at the forefront, benefit from chaos," UN Special Representative for Iraq, Jan Kubis, said in a statement on Saturday.
The Iraqi premier on Friday condemned the Green Zone breach and warned against chaos and strife as government forces seek to keep up momentum against Daesh terrorists.
The Friday protests came amid a turbulent political situation in Iraq where repeated attempts by Abadi for introducing a reform-minded cabinet have failed due to consistent differences among rival political factions.
Earlier this month, Sadr followers broke into the compound of parliament inside the Green Zone area, protesting a stalled vote to endorse Abadi's nominees in the chamber.
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