Saturday: 5 Iraqis Killed, 18 Wounded

by , February 19, 2011

Updated at 10:26 p.m. EST, Feb. 19, 2011

At least five Iraqis were killed and 18 more were wounded in the latest violence, while one U.S. airman was killed in a non-combat incident.Demonstrations continue in Baghdad, Basra, and other locations, but today’s hotspot is again Suleimaniya, where demonstrations turned deadly on Thursday. Turmoil throughout the Arab region could halt plans for an Arab League summit scheduled for March. Iraq is looking forward to hosting the summit as evidence of improving conditions there.

Jaafar al-Sadr, the son of the founder of the Dawa Party, has resigned over a controversial Supreme Court ruling that gave authority of several important–and previously independent–state institutions to the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s cabinet. He further complained of cronyism and warned that the "process of democracy is not irreversible." Maliki also belongs to the Dawa (State of Law) Party, while al-Sadr is a popular politician and a cousin of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Ten demonstrators suffered blunt-force injuries when about 1,000 people attempted to storm a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) office in Suleimaniya. Another protest drew about 2,000 students on the campus of Suleimaniya University. The protestors demanded the resignation of the head of that office and called on Massoud Barzani, a member of the KDP and president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, to apologize for a deadly attack on protestors two days ago at the same offices. At least four more people were reported wounded.

Leaders from an opposition party, Gorran, blamed KDP operatives for an attack on their offices following Thursday’s riots, but Kurdistan’s Vice President Nechirvan Barzani countered by implying that an unnamed party, likely Gorran, was behind the protests. The demonstrators had also claimed that the domination of Kurdish politics by the KDP and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PKU) makes it difficult for non-affiliated Kurds to find jobs or start businesses.

In Mosul, two soldiers were killed in separate events. A civilian was killed in a mortar attack.

In Falluja, a bomb wounded three civilians.

Sheikh Jassim al-Mutairi was killed in an attack in Karbala that also left one bodyguard dead and another wounded.

In Baghdad, about 1,500 widowed and orphaned protestors called for better compensation for families of war victims. Several other demonstrations also took place.

A sit-in in Kut has ended with promises to implement protestors’ demands.

Falah Mustafa Bakir, who heads the Kurdistan Regional Government Department of Foreign Relations, welcomed a Turkish initiative that will give Kurds more rights in Turkey. Meanwhile, Kurdistan’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) has so far spent $2.1 million on salaries and rent, despite not having been formed yet.

No casualties were reported after an explosion damaged an idle pipeline near Dinaya.

A man suspected of a bombing in Muqdadiya two days ago was detained.

Sixteen suspects were captured across Diyala province.

Read more by Margaret Griffis