Written by Reuters
21 Jul, 2018 | 1:15 pm
REUTERS – A security guard outside a branch of one Iraq’s most powerful paramilitary groups shot and killed a protester on Friday (July 20) while trying to push back a crowd, police sources said, ratcheting up tensions over a lack of basic services sweeping southern cities.
Two people were wounded when demonstrators throwing bricks and stones gathered outside the local headquarters of the Iranian-backed Badr Organisation.
Friday’s death brings to four the number of protesters killed in nearly two weeks of demonstrations against corrupt politicians blamed for failing to deliver basic services and jobs to the crumbling oil hub of Basra and other cities.
Dozens of members of the security forces have been injured
in the protests, some of which have taken place at the entrance to oilfields. Officials say production has not been affected.
Anger has also been directed at paramilitary groups such as Badr, which is unusual. Badr politicians had a strong showing in the May 12 parliamentary election which was tainted by allegations of fraud.
Thousands protested in southern cities and Baghdad on Friday, calling for the downfall of political parties, as they escalated demonstrations backed by the country’s most influential clerics.
In Basra, crumbling from years of neglect and under-investment, about 3,000 people gathered outside the headquarters of the provincial governorate.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seeking a second term, promised that his Shi’ite-led government would fund electricity and water projects in Basra, where the colour of tap water is often brown because it contains dirt and where garbage is piled up along many streets.
Iraq’s Shi’ite heartland in the south has long been neglected, first by Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and then by Shi’ite-dominated governments after him.
About 300 people demonstrated at one of Baghdad’s main squares. One held up a poster which read: “The revolution of the poor.” Riot police used water cannons to disperse the crowd.
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