Protests Turn Violent in Baghdad; 31 Killed Across Iraq

by , February 11, 2017

Electoral reform protests in Baghdad became violent on Saturday, leaving several people dead and hundreds injured. The demonstrators, lead by Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, were calling on the government to overhaul the Independent High Electoral Commission, which supervises elections.

Police fired rubber-coated bullets and teargas at the crowd gathered in Tahrir Square near an entrance to the Green Zone. One policeman was shot to death. Dozens of protestors suffered gunshot wounds as well. Following the bloodshed, Sadr asked his followers to disperse. Hours later, the Green Zone suffered a rocket barrage launched from a pair of northern locations.

Sadr believes the commission is loyal to his rival former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is currently a vice president and secretary general of the Dawa party. The head of the electoral commission, Serbat Mustafa, was adamant that he would not be pushed out of his seat.

Kuwait has deployed troops to the Iraqi border, as a precautionary measure should a separate protest get out of hand. Demonstrators at Umm Qasr are criticizing a 2012 navigation agreement between Iraq and Kuwait that reinforces a 1963 border agreement.

The United Kingdom is shutting down operations by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which investigates war crimes allegations against British troops. Meanwhile, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon, who is in Iraqi Kurdistan, said that he believes the Islamic State militants will be expelled from all Iraqi cities by the end of 2017.

At least 31 were killed and 346 more were wounded:

In Baghdad, six civilians and two policemen were killed, and another 320 civilians and seven policemen were wounded in the electoral protests. A bomb in Rashid killed a civilian and wounded five more.

Militants executed six people in Shajara. Two militants were killed and four were wounded in a clash.

In Salah ad Din province, an I.E.D. killed a soldier and wounded five more.

A bomb in Tawakol killed a farmer and wounded three more.

An explosives expert was killed in Qadisiya, while trying to dismantle a car bomb.

Two more explosives experts were wounded while trying to dismantle a bomb near Ramadi.

Militiamen killed 10 militants in Tal Abta.

Read more by Margaret Griffis