UK ambassador condemns violence against protesters in Iraq

Iraqi demonstrators take part in anti-government protests in Nasiriyah, Nov. 28, 2019. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — British ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey condemned violence against protesters in Iraq, after four people were killed when supporters of Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed their camp in Nasiriyah.

“There can be no justification for such senseless killing,” Hickey said in a tweet on Saturday.

Hickey called on the Iraqi authorities to protect peaceful protesters and bring to justice those responsible for attacks against them.

Sadr’s supporters carrying pictures of the cleric marched to the central al-Haboubi square in Nasiriyah, where anti-government protesters have held a sit-in since 2019, after Friday prayers.

They fired gunshots and threw petrol bombs at the protesters’ tents, leading the protesters to fight back, Reuters cited a witness as saying.

Medical sources told AFP that the violence had left four people dead and wounded nearly 51 others, nine of them by gunfire.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi dismissed the police chief of Dhi Qar province and to form a committee to investigate the attacks, said Yehia Rasool, spokesman of commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Kadhimi also ordered security forces to impose a curfew in the province, Rasool said in a tweet.

Haboubi square, where one of the worst killings of demonstrators took place last year and the last major protest site, had been cleared on Friday night by Sadr supporters, a witness told Reuters, another major blow to anti-government protests that have largely lost steam in recent months.

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