Iraq: Hundreds of protesters defy crackdown | News | DW | 27.10.2019
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Iraq: Hundreds of protesters defy crackdown

Despite dozens of protester deaths over the weekend, demonstrators are continuing to gather in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service has been deployed to protect important state buildings.

Hundreds of Iraqi anti-government protesters remained in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square on Sunday, defying a violent crackdown that killed scores of people over the weekend and in an overnight raid by security forces trying to disperse them.

Young men had erected barricades on a bridge leading to the capital's fortified Green Zone between them and security forces, who continued to lob tear gas canisters towards them.

Demonstrators clashed with security forces and militia groups in the second wave of protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's government this month.

Counterterrorism forces beat and arrested dozens of protesters in the southern city of Nassiriya on Saturday night.

They broke up the demonstrations in Tahrir Square with tear gas and stun grenades, but some people have kept on demonstrating.

More than 60 protesters killed

Iraq's semiofficial human rights commission said at least 63 protesters had been killed in two days of anti-government rallies in the capital and southern cities.

The Iraq High Commission for Human Rights said the most protesters were killed in the southern city of Nasiriyah, where 15 died.

At least 10 were killed in the capital, according to the commission, which said more than 2,500 protesters were injured in two days of rallies.

Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service on Sunday said it had deployed in the streets of Baghdad to protect important state buildings "from undisciplined elements."

The Iraqi parliament had been set to meet on Saturday to discuss how to address protesters' demands, but the emergency session had to be scrapped after a quorum could not be reached.

Protesters demand electoral reform

Protesters are seeking reforms to electoral law and a new electoral commission with independent members. They also want to remove the current government.

Thousands of people have been injured across the country since the protests began at the start of the month, with almost 200 deaths reported, according to medical sources.

Watch video 01:03

Iraqi protesters clash with security forces at anti-government rally

law/ng AFP, AP, Reuters

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