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UPDATE 4 - Anti-government protests grow in Iraq

UPDATE 4 - Anti-government protests grow in Iraq
Iraq’s National Security Council holds emergency session to address demonstrations


By Naza Mohammed

BAGHDAD (AA) - Anti-government protestors took to the streets across Iraq on Wednesday, including the capital Baghdad, demanding improved living conditions and an end to what they called government corruption.

Women took part on the second day of protests, with security forces on high alert, locking down several squares and streets in Baghdad.

The country's National Security Council held an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to discuss how to address the situation.

A Health Ministry official in the country's southern province of Dhi Qar told Anadolu Agency that at least four demonstrators were killed there.

The official, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, added that a police officer was also killed in the province.

Wednesday's deaths bring the number of people killed since the protests began Tuesday to 10, along with dozens of injuries.

A security source told Anadolu Agency that protestors set fire to several government buildings in Dhi Qar and Najaf provinces.

In a related development, protestors and civil activists interviewed by Anadolu Agency said the government had partially suspended internet services in the country.

The government has yet to comment on these claims.

"Internet service was cut sporadically this afternoon, which forced us to use programs to break the blockage," said Hassan Rahm, a civil activist and demonstrator from Baghdad, without elaborating.

Hassanein Monshid, a protestor from the southern province of Maysan, told Anadolu Agency that "during the day, we faced a complete internet cutoff in Maysan, and it was partially cut at other times."

The UN representative in Iraq called on the Iraqi authorities to exercise restraint.

-Iraq declares curfew

Anti-government protesters set fire to some government buildings in districts affiliated with provinces in southern Iraq.

Hakim al-Asadi, one of the military officers in charge of the Al Rafidain Operations Command, told Anadolu Agency that demonstrators set fire to municipal buildings.

He said five people, including security forces, were injured in the incidents while the security forces tried to remove the demonstrators from a district governor's office.

Asadi also said that curfews were declared in southern provinces of Iraq but did not provide information on their duration.

Successive Iraqi governments have failed to put an end to alleged nepotism and corruption as the current government struggles to end mismanagement of public funds.

According to World Bank figures, youth unemployment in Iraq has reached around 25%. The country is also ranked the 12th-most corrupt country in the world by several transparency organizations.

source: News Feed
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