Despite gunfire, Iraq’s protests burn on

Gunshots echoed in Iraq’s blazing streets overnight on Monday (October 28) and for some, it was the sound of death. Security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the Shi’ite holy city Kerbala, killing at least 14 according to medical and security sources, though the local police chief denied any deaths. It’s a return to tactics that have been denounced by the government’s own inquiry into the bloodshed from a first wave of protests, at the start of October. But in this second wave, which began on October 25, thousands of Iraqis have returned to the streets – driven by economic hardship and anger at a political elite that they say is corrupt. The unrest has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq which endured a foreign occupation, civil war and Islamic State insurgency between 2003 and 2017. In a bid to regain order, a curfew was imposed in Baghdad overnight on Monday. But protesters are defiant even though, they say, the government has threatened to cut their salaries.

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