Day Of Unrest In Iraq Claims Dozens Of Lives
By RFE/RL November 28, 2019
At least 33 people have been killed in clashes between Iraqi security forces and anti-government protesters, reports say, in one of the bloodiest days since the unrest began nearly two months ago.
The Iraqi military said on November 28 that "crisis cells" were set up in several provinces to try to "impose security and restore order."
Iraqis have been taking to the streets of Baghdad and Iraq's Shi'ite-majority south to demand more jobs, an end to endemic corruption, and improved public services.
At least 350 people have been killed and thousands wounded since the wave of protests began in early October.
On November 28 in the southern city of Nasiriyah, at least 25 people were killed when security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to clear two bridges occupied by protesters, while demonstrators torched a police station, according to medics and security sources.
Reports said live rounds were also fired at Baghdad's Ahrar Bridge as protesters tried to cross toward the Green Zone that hosts parliament and government buildings. Four people were reported killed.
Four more people were reported killed in clashes in the southern city of Najaf, a day after angry crowds set fire to the Iranian Consulate, chanting "Iran out of Iraq."
Staff at the consulate managed to flee just before protesters stormed the building, reports said.
Iraq's Foreign Ministry condemned the late November 27 attack, which came three weeks after the Iranian Consulate in the Iraqi city of Karbala was targeted by protesters, saying it "aimed at damaging the historical relations between Iraq and Iran."
The Iranian Foreign Ministry blamed Baghdad for failing to protect the consulate and demanded decisive action against "aggressors" behind the arson attack.
The anti-government protests have been directed mainly at Iraq's political leaders, but many of those taking part have also expressed anger at Iran's influence over Iraq's internal affairs.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi took office just over a year ago.
Protests have continued despite Mahdi's promises to reshuffle his cabinet and cut the salaries of high-ranking officials. He has also announced schemes to reduce unemployment among the youth.
With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and the BBC
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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