Revolution: 33 killed, 600 injured as anti-government protests spread across Iraq
Iraqi security forces opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who defied a curfew in Baghdad on Thursday and exchanged fire with gunmen in southern cities, bringing to 33 the death toll from three days of anti-government protests.
The protests spread to other cities in predominantly Shi’ite Muslim southern Iraq, where policemen said they increasingly encountered demonstrators carrying weapons.
More than 600 people were injured in clashes across the country as demonstrators once again displayed their anger at Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s government.
Internet access has been cut across much of Iraq including Baghdad since late Wednesday, following the earlier blocking of social media platforms. By Thursday afternoon, the curfew was extended to three other southern provinces.
The protests began over unemployment and poor services but have escalated into calls for a change of government and pose one of the worst security challenges in years in the war-weary country.
They appear to be independent of any political party and seemingly took the security forces by surprise.
“The bullets do not scare us. They do not scare Iraqis. This will all come down over their heads,” said one protester in the capital.
A Baghdad resident and engineer by profession told Israel Hayom: “What you are seeing is a revolution by the Iraqi people against the worst government in the world – a gang of thieves. We will achieve victory for the people and death for those who betrayed Baghdad.”
Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr was among the first to condemn police violence. Al-Sadr is known for his critical stance toward Iran. He has called for an official investigative committee to look into the police’s response to the protests.