2 dead, dozens wounded as anti-government protests resume in Iraq

Police officers killed, dozens of protesters wounded in Iraq as anti-government demonstrations flare up again.

Tags: Iraq
David Rosenberg ,

Anti-government protesters clash with police in Basra, Iraq (January 20th 2020)
Anti-government protesters clash with police in Basra, Iraq (January 20th 2020)

At least two Iraqi police officers were killed and dozens of protesters wounded as anti-government demonstrators clashed with riot police Monday, Reuters reported.

The demonstrations, which had been in decline in recent weeks, flared up again starting Sunday night, when rioters hurled firebombs and rocks at security forces in Baghdad’s Tayaran Square.

Iraqi police responded with stun grenades and tear gas, witnesses said.

In southern Iraq, protesters demanding the immediate removal of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and a slew of reforms burned tires and hurled stones at police officers.

“They should stop shooting and aiming,” one female demonstrator in Baghdad told Reuters, “who are they and who are we? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?”

The two officers killed during Monday’s demonstrations were reportedly killed in Basra, in southeastern Iraq, when a private vehicle drove into a group of officers. Initial reports suggest the driver did not intentionally run the officers down, but may have been trying to flee clashes between security forces and rioters.

The protests first began in early October, when anti-corruption activists began demonstrating against the government in Baghdad.

Popular opinion soured after the government used deadly force to crackdown on the protesters, with more than 450 demonstrators killed since October 1st of last year.

In November, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced that he would step down, after Shi’ite clerics in Iraq urged lawmakers to withdraw their support of Mahdi’s government.

While the Iraqi parliament approved Mahdi’s resignation on December 1st, he has remained in power at the helm of a caretaker government.