At least 10 killed in two days of violent protests across Iraq

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse stone-throwing youth.

At least 10 people have been killed in the last two days of violent protests across Iraq, the country’s High Commission for Human Rights announced.

According to the commission, demonstrators were killed in the capital Baghdad, Diyala, Basra and Karbala, in addition to 138 who were wounded.

“The Commission teams have also documented the presence of some demonstrations who have blocked main roads connecting the governorates, burned tires, continued closure of official departments and educational institutions, and the disruption of many public facilities that provide services to citizens,” the commission said in a statement.

Iraqi police fought running street battles with anti-government demonstrators on Tuesday, firing tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse stone-throwing youth pressing for an overhaul of a political system they see as deeply corrupt.

More than 450 people have been killed in anti-government unrest that has crippled Iraq since October last year.

Protesters are demanding an end to what they say is deeply rooted corruption and a ruling elite that has controlled Iraq since the United States-led invasion in 2003. 

“Our protest is peaceful. We call for the resignation of the government and an independent prime minister who does not belong to any party,” said a hooded protester in Baghdad, who declined to give his name.

Tuesday’s unrest followed violent gatherings on Monday where six Iraqis, including two police officers, were killed and scores wounded across the country.

‘Tough challenge’

Protests resumed over the weekend after a lull of several weeks as demonstrators sought to keep up the momentum after attention turned to the threat of a US-Iran conflict following Washington’s killing of Tehran’s top general in an air strike inside Iraq earlier this month.

Iraqi President Barham Salih is expected to appoint a new premier this week, state media reported, to replace outgoing Adel Abdul Mahdi who was forced out by the demonstrations.

“It’s is going to be a very difficult challenge for this interim government, which is only here to make sure there is a smooth transition of power,” Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid reported from Baghdad.

“It is a very multifaceted, tough challenge for the politicians, and the protesters are saying they will continue to come out until the government meets their demands, or kills them all.” 

Meanwhile, outgoing Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi condemned an overnight triple-rocket attack targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government, and ordered an investigation into the incident, military spokesman Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf said.

The Katyusha rockets fell near the US embassy but caused no casualties.

The Green Zone attack was the second rocket attack to target the area in the last two weeks, amid soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran after a US drone strike killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies