Iraqi university students pelt PM Abadi with stones
Iraqi students on Tuesday pelted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi with stones during his visit to the southern city of Kut, with three people being wounded by gunfire as security forces attempted to disperse demonstrators.
Tens of University of Wasit students protested the premier’s visit with anti-corruption slogans that accused government officials of being thieves, a police source told The New Arab.
Some protesters pelted Abadi’s convoy with stones causing damage to a number of vehicles.
The premier’s security detail responded by firing warning shots into the air, causing a number of injuries.
A police officer and a doctor confirmed that people were hit by gunfire but did not say who was responsible.
"We received around 70 (injured). Most of them left and three wounded by gunfire and 19 suffering from poisoning as a result of tear gas remain," said Ahmed al-Quraishi, a doctor at a local hospital.
Mohammed Anayid, a student, said "security forces fired to disperse the protesters, which resulted in the wounding of a number of demonstrators".
Second Lieutenant Ali al-Sarrai, a member of the security forces tasked with protecting the university, said protesters threw "stones and water bottles and shoes" at Abadi.
His guards then fired in the air and targeted demonstrators with tear gas, said Sarrai who also confirmed that three people were shot.
The students were protesting against "the lack of services and the spread of corruption in the government", said Ali al-Aboudi, who took part in the demonstration.
Video posted on social media showed demonstrators chanting a slogan often used by supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has repeatedly called for protests against corruption in the Iraqi government.
Sadr issued a statement apologising to Abadi and stating that the premier was not personally involved in corruption.
The injuries at the protest in Kut came after seven people - five demonstrators and two security personnel - were killed in clashes between Iraqi forces and protesters in central Baghdad on February 11.