Basra protests: Iraq government buildings torched in new unrest

Basra protests explode into widespread violence

Basra protests explode into widespread violence

Eleven protesters have died and dozens more have been wounded, mostly in clashes with the security forces, since Monday in Basra.

Thursday's developments forced authorities to close the port of Umm Qasr, the country's main seaport and its principal lifeline for grain and other commodity imports. His decision came after protesters took to the streets, which made it hard for security forces to enforce the curfew.

While protests have rocked the southern part of Iraq since June, the arson attacks marked the fourth straight day of violent protests in the Iraqi city, which have claimed at least six lives this week.

Amnesty International on Friday denounced "the use of excessive force by security forces" and called for an investigation into the deaths.

People gather during a protest near the building of government office in Basra, Iraq September 6, 2018.

Mourners carried the body from his house through the streets to the singed government building, chanting: "This is a promise, this is a promise, Basra won't stay silent anymore!"

But the government has blamed provocateurs in the crowds and said troops have been ordered not to use live rounds.

Others carried broomsticks, to "sweep clean" corrupt officials. Thousands of demonstrators rallied outside the building before setting it ablaze, said the news agency's photographer who was an eyewitness to the incident.

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He said the "failure of Iraqi politicians over the past years is what caused the anger of the people in Basra, so this time a government must be formed by new standards based on technocrats". "They are here for their demands such as water and electricity", one protester said, according to Rudaw.

The cleric went on to add that the new government-the lawmakers of which agreed to an emergency session at the call of cleric and election victor Muqtada al-Sadr-must be different from its predecessors.

But since Islamic State group was largely defeated a year ago, divisions have resurfaced.

Local residents say the government is corrupt and has allowed infrastructure to virtually collapse in the region that generates much of Iraq's oil wealth.

Calling for an emergency parliament session, Sadr said the prime minister, local officials, and service ministers should attend "to present radical, immediate, and future solutions" or leave their positions "instantly".

Sadr, the former leader of an anti-American Shisectarian militia who has reinvented himself as an anti-corruption campaigner, has allied himself with Abadi.

An alliance backing Abadi and populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been competing with a rival group backed by Abadi's predecessor Nuri al-Maliki and an Iran-backed militia leader to lead the next government.

Amiri and Maliki are Iran's two most prominent allies in Iraq, while Abadi is seen as the preferred candidate of the US.

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