Nine killed in Iraq as protests continue to rage

Nine killed in Iraq as protests continue to rage
The death toll in the protests in southern Iraq has increased to nine and has left more than 250 injured, sources told The New Arab.
2 min read
15 July, 2018
Protest sign reads: 'Basra's oil belongs to Basra' [Getty]
The death toll in southern Iraq has increased as anti-unemployment protests continue to rage forward in the war-torn country.

The protests hit several provinces, despite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announcing fresh funds and pledges of investment for the oil-rich but neglected region.

Medical sources in Baghdad told The New Arab that the protests in southern Iraq have so far killed nine and left more than 250 injured.

On Sunday alone, the number of wounded exceeded 140, 30 of whom were security personnel.

The unrest comes as Iraq struggles to rebuild after a devastating three-year war against Islamic State group militants, and with the country in political limbo following May elections.

The demonstrations over unemployment, the rising cost of living and a lack of basic services escalated after a protester was killed by security forces last Sunday in Basra.

Demonstrators set tyres ablaze to block roads and tried to storm government installations.

Storm without the calm

On Friday, Abadi flew to Basra from Brussels where he had attended a NATO summit to try to restore calm.

But even as he met the governor of the oil-rich province and energy chiefs, protesters took to the streets of Basra city as well as other parts of the province and the unrest spread further afield.

Overnight in Maysan, several protests were held outside the headquarters of various political parties - including Abadi’s Dawa Party - and some were set on fire, Iraqi media reported.

Unidentified calls were also posted on social media for massive demonstrations to take place on Saturday in Baghdad.

Some urged demonstrators to head for the fortified Green Zone, an area out of bounds for most Iraqis where the country's key institutions and embassies, including the US and British missions, are located.

Agencies contributed to this report.