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Protests Turn Violent, Deadly in Iraq
People gather at a protest site in Habboubi Square in Iraq's southern city of Nasiriyah, Nov. 28, 2020. (Asaad Niazi/AFP via Getty Images)

Protests Turn Violent, Deadly in Iraq

At least six people were killed and 60 were injured late Saturday in clashes between rival protesters in southern Iraq as anti-government demonstrators and pro-government loyalists violently confronted each other on the outskirts of a mass rally in the city of Nasiriyah. The violence erupted after populist Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, the spiritual leader of parliament’s largest bloc, called on his supporters to take to the streets in a show of force against activists demanding social and economic reforms. Protesters accused al-Sadr followers of firing live ammunition at them and torching their sit-in tents pitched in a central Nasiriyah square. Last year, the southern city was central in the mass unrest that led to the ouster of then-Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Nearly 40 people died during protests there in November 2019. Mahdi’s successor, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, has since tried to appease young demonstrators by setting June 2021 as a date for early elections.

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