News ID: 230960
Published: 0209 GMT September 07, 2018

Iraq parliament to hold emergency session on Basra violence

Iraq parliament to hold emergency session on Basra violence
AFP

Iraq's parliament on Friday called an emergency session after a curfew was imposed in the southern city of Basra following a fresh outbreak of deadly protests over poor public services and as shells were fired into Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

Lawmakers and ministers meet today to discuss the water contamination crisis which has triggered the protests, parliament said in a statement, AFP reported.

Mehdi al-Tamimi, head of Basra's human rights council, said nine demonstrators have been killed since Tuesday in clashes with security forces as anger boils over after the hospitalization of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and key ministers are to attend the parliament session, which was demanded by cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose political bloc won the largest number of seats in May elections although a new government has yet to be formed.

The rare assault by unidentified attackers on the Green Zone, which houses parliament, government offices and the US Embassy, caused no casualties or damage, Baghdad's security chief said.

Sadr, whose supporters held protests inside the Green Zone in 2016 to condemn corruption among Iraqi officials, called for "demonstrations of peaceful anger" in Basra after the main weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.

In Basra, the epicenter of protests that have rocked Iraq since July, demonstrators on Thursday set fire to the local government headquarters and both political party and militia offices.

The fire spread across Basra's massive government complex, with witnesses saying it tore through offices housing state TV channel Iraqiya.

The nearby governor's residence was also set ablaze, AFP journalists reported.

At least 24 people have been killed in the demonstrations since they erupted in Basra on July 8.

Human rights activists have accused the security forces of opening fire on the demonstrators, while the government has blamed provocateurs in the crowds and say troops have been ordered not to use live rounds.

Abadi has scrambled to defuse the anger and authorities have pledged a multibillion-dollar emergency plan to revive infrastructure and services in southern Iraq.

But Iraqis remain deeply skeptical as the country remains in a state of political limbo.

   
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