Iraq: Dozens killed as anti-government protests continue | News | DW | 25.10.2019
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Iraq: Dozens killed as anti-government protests continue

Demonstrators continued to vent their anger across Iraq, despite Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi's assurances of reform. Citizens took to the streets to renew their demands for a change of regime and basic services.

At least 50 people were killed and hundreds more injured in Iraq on Friday as security forces and Iranian-backed militia fired live rounds and struggled to disperse mass protests against the government.

Protesters were killed in both Baghdad and in the south of the country, according to security officials, as authorities used live ammunition, tear gas, hot water and rubber bullets to repel demonstrators.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights said at least 2,312 people were injured nationwide.

In the southern city of Amara, a government intelligence officer and a member of the powerful Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia perished in clashes with protesters, according to police sources.

The unrest showed no signs of abating despite assurances of reform, as protesters in southern Iraq torched the government's provincial headquarters and party offices.

The High Commission for Human Rights said 27 government buildings and party offices were set alight in some provinces. 

Watch video 01:03

Iraqi protesters clash with security forces at anti-government rally

Protesters eye Baghdad's Green Zone

In Baghdad, eight people were killed and more than 350 people were injured as security forces attempted to repel protesters with tear gas and stun grenades in a bid to prevent them from reaching the city's fortified Green Zone, which is where government buildings and embassies are located.

Protesters massed in central Baghdad's Tahrir Square in the early hours of Friday morning just hours after Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi's televised speech, during which he promised reforms and a cabinet reshuffle next week.

Iraq,Tahrir Square, Baghdad

Protesters gathered in Baghdad's Tahrir Square shortly after midnight carrying national flags and chanting slogans demanding the resignation of the government and parliament

"Demanding the overthrow of the government without a constitutional alternative will throw the country into chaos," he said in an effort to appease protesters.

Read more: Iraqi military admits using excessive force in Baghdad

The speech failed to quell further outbreaks of violence, with protesters setting fire to offices belonging to a Shiite political party and a Shiite militia group in Iraq's southern Muthanna province.

Reform, resignation and essential services required

Protesters are seeking reforms to electoral law and a new electoral commission with independent members, as well as the resignation of the government.

Thousands of people have been injured across the country since the protests began at the beginning of the month, with almost 200 deaths reported, according to medical sources. Demonstrators are frustrated at political elites they say have failed to improve their lives.

"All we want are four things: jobs, water, electricity, and safety. That's all we want," said 16-year-old Ali Mohammed who had covered his face with a T-shirt to avoid inhaling tear gas.

mm,jsi/stb (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)

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