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  • Demonstrators were killed in the capital Baghdad, and in the cities of Diyala, Basra and Karbala, the OHCHR said.

    Demonstrators were killed in the capital Baghdad, and in the cities of Diyala, Basra and Karbala, the OHCHR said. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 January 2020
Opinion

Police and demonstrators violently fought ​​​​​​on Tuesday, with security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets and the protesters throwing stones.

At least 10 people were killed and 138 wounded over the past two days across Iraq as a result of violent clashes between protesters and security forces, the country's High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.

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Demonstrators were killed in the capital Baghdad, and in the cities of Diyala, Basra, and Karbala, the commission reported.

"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 and anti-government demonstrators violently fought on Tuesday, with the security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets and the mostly young protesters responding by throwing stones.

The people protesting in Iraq have been calling for an overhaul of a system they deem deeply corrupt and the removal of a ruling elite that has been controlling Iraq since the United States invaded the country in 2003. 

They are demanding early elections based on reformed voting law, a new prime minister to replace current caretaker Adel Abdel Mahdi and alleged corrupt officials to be judged.

"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 preferred not give his name.

The leaderless anti-government movement that started in October was re-ignited Sunday after weakening in recent weeks amid the ongoing geopolitical crisis between Iran and the U.S. following the assassination on Jan. 3 of top Iranian Major- General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. strike in Baghdad.

Tuesday's unrest followed Sunday and Monday’s violent gatherings where six Iraqis, including two police officers, were killed and scores wounded.

After PM Abdel Mahdi resigned last November, political parties have been unable to agree on a successor, while demonstrators have discarded all the names circulating as possible replacements.

The uprising is the largest and bloodiest that have taken place in Iraq in decades. Almost 460 people died and more than 25,000 were wounded since October.

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