Baghdad, 5 October 2019 (dpa/MIA) – The death toll from days of anti-government protests across Iraq has risen to 93, the majority of whom are demonstrators, while around 4,000 people have been wounded, an independent rights group said Saturday.
At least six policemen are among those killed, a member of the High Commission for Human Rights, Ali al-Bayati, told dpa.
A curfew in Baghdad was lifted early Saturday, two days after it was imposed in an attempt to curb the protests.
Iraq’s official news agency reported that a group of protesters were meeting speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi at the parliament building on Saturday.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi chaired a meeting on Saturday with the ministers of defence and the interior to discuss the latest developments in the protests.
Since Tuesday, thousands have taken to the streets of Baghdad and several provinces to protest against corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor services – in particular access to electricity and clean water.
Protests were met with tear gas and gunshots from security forces, followed by a curfew in the capital and elsewhere.
In a speech on Friday, Abdel-Mahdi vowed to respond to the public’s “rightful demands,” but said that people must return to their normal lives in all provinces. The state had no “magic solutions,” he said.
The country’s top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has criticized the government and parliament for failing to carry out reforms and meet demands of Iraqis.
He condemned the violence and attacks on both protesters and security forces.
The protests, which have been largely led by young people, come one year after Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi took office, posing a new challenge to the country, which is still grappling with a lengthy campaign against the Islamic State extremist group.