At least 26 people were killed, and over 300 were injured, in recent violence:
On Monday, Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced that he would resign from politics, triggering unrest in Baghdad. At least 17 people were killed, including security personnel and civilians. Rioters stormed the government palace in protest and a curfew is in place. Clashes between Sadr’s militia, Saraya al-Salam, and the Popular Mobilization militia were reported in the evening. Tear gas, gunfire, mortars, and other physical altercations lead to at least 300 wounded. Protests moved southward into Iraq’s heavily Shi’ite provinces, where the headquarters for Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataeb Hezbollah militias were set on fire. A provincial government building in Dhi Qar reportedly was stormed.
Although the Sadrist Movement won the largest number of seats in last October’s elections, the party did not win a majority. The government has been deadlocked since. Sadr, who has resigned from politics before, also said he would engage in a hunger strike until all the violence subsides.
The trigger for today’s events may have been the retirement of Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri from religious duties. In a blow to Sadr’s ambitions, al-Haeri, who resides in Iran, asked his followers to align themselves with Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rather than religious leaders in Iraq.
In other news:
Turkish shelling killed four guerrillas belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) in Sinjar.
A man was beheaded in Kirkuk. His companion was kidnapped.
In Daquq, a militant was killed and another was wounded.