Iraq police fire in air as protesters storm Basra govt. building

Elias Hubbard
July 16, 2018

He pointed out that although the situation is worrisome, the Kuwaiti public trusts the country's security protocols and supports all efforts in safeguarding the borders. It is located on the Persian Gulf bordering Kuwait and Iran, and is Iraq's only hub for all oil exports nowadays to the global market.

"The dear governorate of Basra is the number one in providing the country with financial revenue".

Additional Iraqi forces were transferred from Baghdad, Diyala, and Salahuddin to Basra as demonstrations escalate.

"We will paralyze the movement of oil companies", one of the protest organizers told Arab News. He called for coordinating with the embassy in Baghdad in case of traveling to Kuwait by calling its phones around the clock at: (07802604123, 078300004444 and 0783111112222).

Two protesters were killed on Sunday in clashes with Iraqi security forces in the town of Samawa, a police official said, amid growing anger in southern cities over poor public services and widespread corruption. "If the government does not respond quickly, we fear things will get out of control in Basra", Faris Shaddad, the head of an energy panel at the Basra provincial council, told Reuters.

Two protesters died from gunshot wounds following rallies overnight Friday, although it was not clear who killed them.

"Iraqis do not accept chaos, assaults on the security forces, state and private property, and those who do this are vandals who exploit the demands of citizens to cause harm", he said.

Scores of demonstrators have been wounded in southern Iraq in clashes with police as protests over high unemployment, poor public services and corruption continued into a seventh day.

Iraqi riot police fire tear gas at protesters during a demonstration in Basra
Iraqi riot police fire tear gas at protesters during a demonstration in Basra

Police also fired tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators who tried to push their way into the Zubeir oil field south of the city, an AFP reporter said.

On Friday Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi fl ew to Basra from Brussels, where he had attended a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, to try to restore calm.

But so far, the protesters have ignored his concessions and taken the unusual step of attacking local government headquarters and buildings belonging to powerful Shia militias.

Protests continued Sunday morning in Najaf city, where an AFP correspondent said security forces dispersed a large demonstration.

Earlier, the prime minister, who also serves as commander-in-chief of Iraq's armed forces, had issued a nationwide order placing security forces on high alert in the southern provinces in response to the protests. Some urged demonstrators to head for the fortified Green Zone, an area out of bounds for most Iraqis where key institutions and embassies, including the United States and British missions, are located.

Police confronted protesters in Basra when they gathered near an oil field operated by Russian oil firm Lukoil. A group of demonstrators also staged a brief protest at the Safwan border crossing with neighbouring Kuwait.

Sadr has sought to form a broad coalition with other parties including Abadi's Dawa.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is heading a fragile caretaker government until a new one can be formed, has announced that his government would release funds to Basra for water, electricity and health services in the suffocating summer heat. "Our forces will take all the necessary measures to counter those people", the statement said. The official unemployment rate in Iraq is 10.8 percent, but that figure doubles among the country's large young population.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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