New York Times: By early Thursday, 14 people were confirmed dead by the Health Ministry and by hospitals: five in Baghdad and nine in Nasiriya, in southern Iraq. Hundreds of others were wounded, primarily by rubber bullets and tear gas, and in some cases by live ammunition.
The ministry said on Wednesday that 100 to 200 demonstrators were being treated for injuries at Baghdad hospitals. Counterterrorism police officers were deployed near the city’s airport to prevent protesters from storming it.
The situation remained tense overnight in Baghdad and in several southern provinces, as the government took strict measures to bring mass demonstrations under control: A curfew was imposed in the affected areas and the internet was shut down to make it more difficult for protesters to organize on social media.
Despite the measures, two rockets were fired early Thursday at the Green Zone, the heavily protected area that covers about four square miles of Baghdad, though there were no reports of injuries.
The unrest amounted to the largest display of public anger at the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi since it took office a year ago.
A protest in Baghdad on Wednesday. The unrest amounted to the largest display of public anger at the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi since it took office a year ago.CreditKhalid Al Mousily/Reuters
The unrest, now in its third day, amounted to the largest display of public anger at the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi since it took office a year ago.
Iraqis have held mass demonstrations for the last several years over a lack of basic services as well as government corruption. However, the demonstrations usually happen in summer, when electricity outages cause the greatest suffering from Iraq’s extreme heat, which routinely exceeds 115 degrees in the southern provinces.
The latest demonstrations, in much cooler temperatures, suggest the underlying grievances are as much about frustration with the government and unemployment as they are about the lack of services.
Source: New York Times, picture credit Khalid Mohammed/Associated Press