At least 22 people were killed, and 250 more were wounded:
Demonstrations continued across Iraq on Wednesday. Casualty figures vary, but at least 22 were reported killed during a second day of protests and other violence. About 250 people were reported wounded.
The protesters are demanding better jobs and services, while denouncing corruption. Although protests turned deadly last summer as well, little has been done to help ordinary civilians. Despite the oil wealth, there is high unemployment particularly among the young. These are not the first protests this year, but the heavy casualties and violence have increased attention to them. Analysts have speculated that these protests arose spontaneously, without encouragement from any political organizations.
In Nasariya, four protesters and a policemen were killed on Wednesday. At least 33 people were wounded or tear gassed, including 11 security personnel. An exchange of gunfire between demonstrators and security personnel was reported.
In Baghdad, two people were killed, and 82 people were wounded on Wednesday, according to officials. With Tahrir Square — the site of Tuesday’s protest — sealed off, protesters moved into other neighborhoods such as Kifah, Shabb and Zaafaraniyah. Security forces were called in to protect the airport from being overrun.
Rioters attempted to break into a municipal building in Kut.
Ten security personnel were wounded in Hilla.
Curfews were imposed on Amara, Baghdad, Hilla, and Nasariya. The curfew in Baghdad began at 5:00 a.m. local time, Thursday, and movement throughout the city is restricted. Exemptions include travelers to and from Baghdad airport, ambulances, certain government employees, and religious pilgrims.
Demonstrations were reported in Basra, Diwaniya, Hilla, Muthanna, and Samawa, all to the south of Baghdad. To the north, peaceful rallies were reported in Diyala, Kirkuk, and Tikrit. Marchers blocked a highway near Taji.
Internet watchdog Netblocks reported that access to social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, and others were blocked by Internet service providers in Iraq “in a manner consistent with previous incidents of censorship.”
The country’s human rights committee admonished security forces for suppressing demonstrations, and the Iraqi government ordered an investigation into how the normally peaceful protests erupted into violence this week.
In other news:
Ten militants were killed during strikes on the Makhoul Mountains.
An operation in the Hamrin Mountains left five militants dead.