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Iraqi premier warns against use of bullets


BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi warned security forces not to fire at protesters on Saturday, a day after a demonstrator was killed in the southern city of Basra.

“The state will not be lenient with any member of the security forces who violates orders of not using bullets against protesters,” Al Kadhimi said in a tweet, adding that the person who killed the protester will be arrested and tried.

Security forces opened fire during clashes with protesters in Basra on Friday, killing one and wounding at least five others. The protesters were calling for better living conditions and an end to corruption in the country.

Street protests have roiled Iraq since October last year, with demonstrators calling for an overhaul of the country’s political system, which has been in place since the 2003 US-led invasion.

In late November, then-prime minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi resigned.There have been fewer and smaller street protests since a new government was formed by Al Kadhimi in May.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s interior ministry confirmed the death but said in a statement that no Iraqi security forces were being allowed to use weapons against demonstrators and that it was investigating the incident.

Deadly flare-ups have been rare since protests against Iraq’s ruling elite and demanding jobs and services largely subsided earlier this year.

During months of anti-government protests that erupted under his predecessor Adel Abdul Mahdi in October 2019, more than 500 people were killed, mostly young unarmed demonstrators.

The Basra security sources and rights official said several dozen protesters had taken to the streets in the country’s southern oil hub on Friday demanding jobs and basic services. — DPA

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