Two killed as clashes erupt at Iraq rallies over unpunished killings

Two killed as clashes erupt at Iraq rallies over unpunished killings

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Baghdad: Two Iraqis were killed in clashes on Tuesday and 28 others were injured. Thousands of people protested in Baghdad, demanding justice for the wave of deadly attacks on pro-democracy activists and journalists.

Medical staff and police said that the demonstrators were injured when the police fired tear gas to disperse them, while five policemen were injured by projectiles during the operation.

Mohammad Baker from the southern town of Diwaniya died in Al-Kindi hospital from a gunshot wound in the neck, a medical source said.

Another medical source later said another person had died, without giving more details.

Waving portraits of victims, gunned down with silencers by unknown assailants, the demonstrators converged on the Iraqi capital s main squares including Tahrir, as police were deployed in force.

“Revolution against the parties,” they chanted.

“Who killed me?” banners read.

Since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in the US-led invasion of 2003, political parties have controlled life in Iraq and corruption has plagued state institutions.

Many in the crowds travelled from the southern cities of Karbala, Najaf and Nassiriya, where several of the killings occurred.

Anti-government campaigner Ihab al-Wazni was killed in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Karbala on May 9, a day before prominent journalist Ahmed Hassan was also shot in southern Iraq. He remains in a coma after undergoing brain surgery.

Since the outbreak of the protest movement in 2019, protests against government corruption and incompetence have resulted in the killing of more than 70 activists, attempted murders and kidnappings.

The authorities have not been able to publicly identify or accuse the perpetrators of the homicide, but they have not yet requested this.

However, militants have repeatedly accused armed groups linked to Iran of having considerable influence in Iraq.

In response to the central demands of the protest movement, elections have been scheduled for October.

However, the 25-year-old demonstrator Hossein severely predicted that “anyone who runs in the election as a free candidate who is not affiliated with a political party will be killed.”

“These polls are only designed to recycle corrupt garbage.”

President Salem said on Sunday that since Saddam was deposed, $150 billion in oil funds had been smuggled from Iraq.

After Wazni was murdered, the anti-government protests led to a movement called Al-Beit Al-Watani, or National Bloc, which stated that it would boycott the election.

Since then, 17 groups have joined the call for boycotts.

Another protester in Baghdad Mohammed, 22, showed widespread distrust. He said: “People infiltrated the demonstrations, took pictures of us and killed the militants after we left.”

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