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Violence returns to Baghdad as protesters injured by security forces

Violence returned to Iraq’s streets on Sunday night as protests resumed in Baghdad and Najaf, with several demonstrators said to be injured by security forces.

According to footage on social media, a number of demonstrators were targeted  with live ammunition by security forces after demonstrators blocked a main road near Tahrir Square, the city’s protest hub. Other videos show security forces appearing to use tear gas and sound grenades to disperse protesters.

Two protesters were killed in the clashes, medics confirmed to AFP on Monday morning.

Yehia Rasool, spokesperson for the commander-in-chief said a number of security forces were also wounded.

Security forces are “committed to protecting peaceful demonstrators” upon orders from their superiors and will refrain from violence “except in cases of extreme necessity,” he tweeted.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) condemned the violence.

Protests erupted across central and southern Iraq in October 2019, with overwhelmingly young crowds demanded jobs, services, and action against corruption. When demonstrators began to be killed by security forces and pro-Iran militias, activists began demanding an end to foreign interference in Iraqi affairs and called for the overthrow of the political elite.

By the end of November last year, former Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned after mounting pressure from protesters and an official call from Iraq’s highest Shiite authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

With a new government appointed but the old establishment securely in place, the dormant movement erupted once again in early May.

Approximately 600 have been killed and more than 18,000 injured since October, according to human rights monitor Amnesty International.

Najaf also saw protests on Sunday, with demonstrators blocking a main road leading to the city’s international airport, burning tires as they demanded electricity and basic services.

Last night’s violence came a day after Kadhimi announced preparations to reveal the names of protesters killed since demonstrations began.

In an official letter published on May 7, Amnesty urged Kadhimi to  prioritize human rights, take action on domestic violence, and  investigate the killing of hundreds of protesters during the country’s  recent unrest. Source