Despite widespread curfews, demonstrations continued on Thursday. Constricted internet access has made the spread of information difficult, while the high number of wounded make accurate figures impossible.
According to Associated Press, a total of 33 people have been killed over the last three days. Xinhua News is reporting that over 1,500 have been wounded. Among them at least two more security personnel were reported killed. Some security personnel are apparently ignoring Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s order to stop using bullets against the demonstrators.
The prime minister also called on protest representatives to meet with the government in order to consider “legitimate demands,” but the protests have grown spontaneously without leadership. The protests have mostly taken place in predominantly Shi’ite provinces to the south of Baghdad. The protesters are generally young and poor. Many are unemployed, including college graduates. They do not seem to be organizing around political parties or other groups. In fact, Sunni and Shi’ites were seen praying together in Baghdad.
Besides high unemployment, the demonstrators are complaining about ongoing government corruption and poor services. Another very recent factor is the transfer of a well-respected commander, Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab Al Saadi, that was seen as a demotion.
Iran has closed the Khosravi border crossing, near Khanaqin, and asked Iranians to delay travel plans. Chazabeh crossing may also be closed. Arba’een, a major religious holiday, takes place in two weeks. Tens of millions of pilgrims are expected to visit the holy city of Karbala and other shrines. About three million pilgrims are expected to arrive from Iran.
In Baghdad, at least five people were killed in the Zaafaraniyah district. Rioters overpowered a soldier in an armored vehicle then set it on fire. Mortars were reported exploding in the Green Zone, but no casualties were reported. Government offices in the suburbs of Sabaa al-Bour and Taji were set aflame.
Nine protesters were killed in Nasariya, which has seen some of the worst violence during these demonstrations.
In Amara, five protesters were killed.
Two protesters and a security member were killed in Diwaniya.
Gunmen in Basra killed an activist couple during a home invasion; Hussein Adel Madani’s two-year-old daughter was unharmed.
A policeman was killed in Dhi Qar province.
Government buildings in Dhi Qar and Najaf provinces have been set on fire.