Iraqi protesters storm Baghdad bridge; medic killed

Updated November 07, 2019

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Iraqi protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks gather for an anti-government demonstration in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Wednesday.—AFP
Iraqi protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks gather for an anti-government demonstration in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Wednesday.—AFP

BAGHDAD: Anti-government protesters in Iraq stormed a fourth bridge on Wednesday in central Baghdad, where security forces pushed them back with batons and tear gas, wounding dozens, and a medic was killed near another bridge while aiding demonstrators.

The military called on the protesters to stop blocking roads and ports, saying they had cost Iraq $6 billion, and it vowed to arrest those responsible. The US Embassy urged the government to “engage seriously and urgently” with the demonstrators and condemned attacks on them.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks in the capital and across the Shia south to demand sweeping political change. The protesters complain of widespread corruption, a lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, including regular power cuts despite Iraq’s vast oil reserves.

The protesters have focused their anger on Shia political parties and militias, many of which have close ties to Iran . Across the south, they have attacked party and militia headquarters, setting some of them ablaze.

In Karbala, protesters attacked the Iranian Consulate earlier this week, hurling firebombs over its walls. Security forces killed at least three people as they dispersed the protest. Days earlier, masked men suspected of links to the security forces opened fire on a demonstration there, killing at least 18 people.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2019