Iraq death toll climbs further with deaths of five protesters after curfew's end: officials

Iraq death toll climbs further with deaths of five protesters after curfew's end: officials
The death toll from Iraq's mass anti-government protests has climbed further after five protesters were killed following the end of a two-day curfew on Saturday.
2 min read
05 October, 2019
Iraqis have protested against alleged corruption and failing public services [Getty]
Iraqi officials say five protesters were killed in Baghdad in renewed rallies after a two-day curfew was lifted.

The death toll from mass protests in Baghdad and cities across southern Iraq rose to 93 earlier on Saturday, as the unrest entered its fifth day, parliament's human rights commission reported earlier in the day.

The five latest deaths would bring that number to 98.

More than 4,000 people have also been injured since the protests against chronic unemployment, poor public services and widespread corruption erupted in the capital on Tuesday, the commission said.

A total of 540 demonstrators have been arrested, of whom nearly 200 remain in custody, the panel added.

The unrest is the most serious challenge for the year-old government of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.

The government has also been caught in the middle of increasing US-Iran tensions in the region. Iraq is allied with both countries and hosts thousands of US troops, as well as powerful paramilitary forces allied with Iran.

Read more: Why are people protesting in Iraq?

The mostly leaderless protests have been concentrated in Baghdad and in predominantly Shia areas of southern Iraq, bringing out jobless youths and university graduates who are suffering under an economy reeling from graft and mismanagement.

The movement received a significant boost on Friday, when Iraq's Shia spiritual leader Ayatolah Ali Sistani urged the government to heed the demands of protesters "before it's too late".

Another prominent cleric, Moqtadr al-Sadr, also sided with the protesters and demanded the government resign.