UPDATES WITH SADR’S COMMENTS AND CURFEW STATE LIFTING
By Haydar Hadi
BAGHDAD (AA) – Iraq’s prime minister on Friday ordered a curfew in the capital lifted, hours after thousands of supporters of firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed Baghdad's Green Zone for the second time in a month.
Iraqi state TV said Iraqi Premier Haider al-Abadi ordered the lifting of the curfew which was declared when protestors crossed into the heavily fortified Green Zone, housing a number of vital government institutions, including Al-Abadi's office and Parliament, as well as foreign diplomatic missions.
Protesters withdrew from the Parliament building and Prime Ministry following security forces’ intervention.
Al-Sadr, in a statement published Friday evening, said he supports the protestors’ “peaceful actions” and condemned the government’s use of "force".
“They targeted demonstrators with weapons and teargas. O hero people, patience!” Sadr said, adding that the end of the peaceful revolution is “victory”.
“Damn the government killing people in cold blood,” Al-Sadr said, asking what difference there is between the current Iraqi government and the dictatorship of the late Saddam Hussein.
Earlier Friday, security forces used teargas and aerial gunshots to disperse the protesters, who entered the zone after demonstrations held in Tahrir Square to demand government reform.
The protesters first entered the Green Zone on April 30.
Interior Ministry sources told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions of speaking to the media that 21 people were injured in brawls between protesters and security forces.
Following the Green Zone breach, a curfew was declared in Baghdad, Baghdad Operations Command said in a statement.
Iraq has been embroiled in a deepening political crisis since March, when Sadr loyalists began staging protests in the capital with a view to pressing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to appoint a government of technocrats untainted by corruption or sectarian affiliations.
*Anadolu Agency correspondents Servet Gunerigok and Fatjon Prroni contributed to this report from Ankara.