Protests in the southern Iraqi cities of Basra and Nasiriyah took a violent turn, as protestors attacked the headquarters of the Iraqi Shi’a Islamist political parties, the Badr Organization and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.
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Security forces fired live rounds in the air to disperse the protestors, while an explosion rocked Nasiriyah’s Al-Haboubi Square, injuring 11 people.
The protesters gathered to demand that the Iraqi parliament dismiss Nasiriyah’s governor, after two activists were killed and others wounded in three separate attacks carried out by unidentified gunmen last week.
Angry protesters also burned pictures of former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, whom they accuse of inciting the killing of protesters.
The protests were renewed after activist Reham Yacoub, who had led several women’s marches in the past, was killed on Wednesday in an attack that also wounded three others. The attack was undertaken by gunmen on the back of a motorcycle brandishing assault rifles, and who had opened fire on the car carrying those attacked.
Yacoub’s killing was the third incident since last week in which gunmen targeted an anti-government political activist. In a separate incident, one activist was killed and four others had their car fired upon.
The wave of violence began when activist Tahseen Osama was assassinated last week, prompting street demonstrations lasting three days.
During those protests, security forces opened live fire on protesters throwing rocks and petrol bombs at the governor’s house. The protestors had also blocked several main roads.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has already taken action by sacking the chiefs of Basra’s police and national security forces on Monday. Al-Kadhimi also ordered an investigation into the violence, a move that had gone some way to calming protesters until Yacoub’s killing renewed protests.
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