At least five people were killed and more than 170 wounded in clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Iraq’s fourth largest city, Nasiriyah, according to local reports.
The unrest in the main city of the Dhi Qar Governorate, located some 360 km southeast of Baghdad, has continued since erupting on Sunday when demonstrators armed with rocks and Molotov cocktails tried to storm the provincial government building.
But Friday saw a major escalation, with witnesses saying that law enforcement deployed live fire against the crowds, who had taken to the streets in defiance of the coronavirus lockdown.
An unnamed member of Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights told Sputnik news agency that five people had died from gunshot wounds sustained during the protests in Nasiriyah. The same number of fatalities was reported to Reuters by hospital sources, who also said that live rounds were the cause of most of the deaths.
Some 120 protesters and 57 members of the security forces were wounded in the clashes, according to medical and security sources.
— Amnesty Iraq (@AmnestyIraq) February 26, 2021
The Iraqi branch of Amnesty International human rights group said city hospitals were working at full capacity, with some of the injured being treated in parking lots due to the lack of free beds.
The group also announced that it was able to verify the gruesome clips and photos of killed and injured protesters as having been taken in the city on Friday.
The demonstrators have been pushing for the resignation of the region’s governor and justice for the hundreds of protesters killed during a major anti-government uprising in Iraq two years ago.
In 2019, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis around the country demonstrated for months, demanding a better life and the removal of corrupt political elites.
The heated rallies prompted then-prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to resign. His successor, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, promised to investigate the deaths of the protesters and punish those responsible, but nobody has appeared before the court so far.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!