Baghdad: At least six people were killed and some 158 others sustained injuries in anti-government protests in southern provinces of Basra and Dhi Qar on Sunday, the Iraqi Independent High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) had said.
The use of “excessive violence has been noticed in the clashes between security forces and demonstrators in the provinces of Basra and Dhi Qar,” Xinhua news agency reported after citing an IHCHR statement.
The clashes resulted in the killing of three protesters and the wounding of 87 protesters and security members in Um Qasr area in Basra Province, while three protesters killed and 71 wounded near two bridges in the city of Nasriyah, capital of Dhi Qar province, according to the statement.
The security forces also arrested six protesters in Basra and five others in Dhi Qar, the statement said.
IHCHR reiterated its request to the people to demonstrate in designated areas in order to avoid any clash with the security forces.
The commission also called upon the government to “immediately intervene to stop the violence and to take the utmost restraint and apply the criteria of security engagement.”
Earlier in the day, state-run Iraqi News Agency said the demonstrators blocked several vital roads, including the main road in western Basra leading to Um Qasr and Khor al-Zubair ports on the Gulf coast, as well as roads leading to some oilfields.
Also on Sunday, Abdul Karim Khalaf, spokesman of the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, said in a press release that “gangs exploit the demonstrations to destroy and burn the state institutions, ports, oil installations and citizens’ property.”
“These gangs will be confronted firmly to prevent the sabotage,” and the security forces will arrest those behind such acts, Khalaf added.
Mass demonstrations have continued in the capital Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, accountability for corruption, improvement of public services and job opportunities.