Iraq: Deadly Basra clashes as protesters torch government office

Deadly clashes continue to torch the town of Basra known for its oil as many hundreds had gathered in mourning of the death of a protestor, Yasser Makki. The violent protests have led to killing of 6 people and injured 12 as people torched a government building. Many security personnel have also got hurt.

The death of the protestor has escalated the situation and increased tensions. Government forces are using live ammunition and tear gas to break the crowd apart.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi held an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the situation and also passed orders to investigate the causes of the protests. Southern Iraq has been witnessing continued protests since months due to poor state of government services, mounting corruption and a severe  shortage of drinking water.

The government building was set on fire after petrol bombs were thrown on the security forces by the protestors. PM Abadi also called for a probe into the death of Makki. Mahdi al-Tamimi, Local Head of Iraq’s Human Rights Commission also called for an investigation into the latter.

Abadi told media that the government had clearly ordered no use of live ammunition during protests. The security forces are trying hard to disperse the demonstrators but the use of live ammunitions only seem to strengthen their resolve to continue. Protestors and other people are condemning the use of strong force against protestors asking for basic rights. Since the demonstrations started in July 8, over increasing unemployment, insufficient power supply and mounting power cuts and corruption, 23 protestors have been killed by the security forces.

The protests have continued despite the suspension of power minister in August by the Abadi government for poor electricity services in Basra. Water contamination and related infections have also led to increased public discontent as thousands were hospitalised in the province. The situation has made the risks of cholera outbreak high.

 

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