Baghdad: The death toll in Baghdad anti-government protest has risen to 12 after the government imposed an open-ended curfew, Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights said Thursday.
“A total of 11 demonstrators and one law enforcement officer were killed during the protests. At least 650 people have been injured, including 87 security personnel,” Sputnik quoted the head of the commission, Ali Bayati, as saying.
122 people have been detained in the protests, but that the majority of them had already been released.
Earlier in the day, Iraq Prime Minister Adil Abd Mahdi called an emergency security meeting to address the situation.
The protests, which marked the largest to date against Mahdi’s fragile government, were organised to decry a host of problems that plague the daily life of many Iraqis, among them corruption, a lack of services and unemployment.
On Wednesday, At least two people were killed and hundreds of other protesters sustained injuries when security forces fired bullets and tear gas at the crowd gathered for anti-government demonstrations, authorities said.
About 1,000 protesters had marched into a central square in Baghdad amid a heavy police presence. Tear gas was fired when the crowd moved on toward the heavily fortified Green Zone.
Protests were also reported in the cities of Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah, and Basra.
Many of the protesters in Baghdad held photographs of one of the country’s most famous war heroes, Lt Gen Abdulwahab al-Saadi, a former head of Iraq’s counterterrorism force who led the fight to defeat the Islamic State.
Saadi’s removal from his post last week followed weeks of speculation that militia groups loyal to neighbouring Iran had pushed for his departure.
The United Nations has called for restraint after violent anti-government protests gripped the Iraqi capital and other provinces of the Middle East country.
“The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert calls for calm, and deeply regrets the casualties among both the protesters and security forces,” the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement cited by Xinhua news agency.
Hennis-Plasschaert also urged the Iraqi authorities to “exercise restraint in their handling of the protests to ensure the safety of peaceful protesters while upholding law and order and protecting the people, public and private property.”
“Every individual has the right to speak freely, in keeping with the law,” Hennis-Plasschaert said.
Although Iraq is experiencing a period of relative stability since the Islamic State’s formal defeat here in 2017, protesters said they saw few improvements in the governance that still shapes their everyday lives.