Iraq: Anti-government demonstrator killed in Basra protests

Medics said Fadhel hit by at least one bullet as hundreds of protesters and the anti-riot police clashed.

Iraqi riot police form a shield as demonstrators gather near the local administration building in the southern city of Basra [Hussein Faleh/AFP]

An anti-government protester was killed and 40 others wounded in the southern city of Basra on Friday.

Medics said Omar Fadhel was hit by at least one bullet as hundreds of protesters and the anti-riot police clashed.

Basra security sources and rights official said several dozen protesters took to the streets in the country’s southern oil hub demanding jobs and basic services.

They were angry that PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi had generally failed to deliver on both and that protest camps had been cleared by security forces in Basra and the capital Baghdad, the rights official said.

It was the first killing of a protester by security forces in Basra since Kadhimi took office in May.

Iraq’s interior ministry confirmed the death but said in a statement that no Iraqi security forces were being allowed to use weapons against demonstrators and that it was investigating the incident.

In a separate incident on Friday, a key figure in anti-government protests launched in Baghdad in October 2019 was shot while driving through an eastern district of the capital. The name of the activist was not immediately known.

Last Saturday, Iraqi forces cleared out sit-in tents from Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square that had been the epicentre of anti-government mass protests that erupted last year.

They also removed tents in Basra’s Bahriya Square and in other southern cities that have seen huge protests throughout the past year.

The removal of the tents has led to tensions and protesters in Basra have been trying to erect them again, holding demonstrations in the city for the past three days.

They are also demanding the sacking of the governor and an investigation into previous killings of protesters.

More than 500 people were killed during the months-long protest movement that began in October 2019 in Baghdad and across the southern parts of the country. Many of them were demonstrators shot by Iraqi security forces.

Source: News Agencies