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07 Dec 2019 | 04:56 AM UTC

Iraq: Reports of 50 killed in Baghdad clashes December 6-7 /update 78

Unidentified men shot at protesters, killing at least 50 and injuring 130 on December 6-7; heightened security presence expected to continue

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IRQ

Event

Some sources have indicated that 50 people were killed and another 130 were injured in Baghdad's Khulani Square and Al-Sinak bridge, when unidentified gunmen shot into crowds of protesters on Friday, December 6, and into Saturday, December 7. The gunmen also reportedly threw Molotov cocktails during the clashes. The attack comes one day after 13 protesters were stabbed by unknown assailants in Tahrir Square. Iraqi security forces also reported two fatalities. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Iraqi army is to deploy its forces to Baghdad following the night of clashes.

Power disruptions were also reported at Tahrir Square, the main gathering place for protesters, though no official reasons were reported.

A 'Million Man March' is planned on Tuesday, December 10, in which protesters from several cities are expected to travel from southern cities into Baghdad. The situation remains fluid and there is limited information at present.

Spontaneous gatherings and protest as well as heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in Baghdad, Basra, Najaf, Nasiriyah, and other major urban centers over the coming days. Clashes between protesters and security forces are likely near all protest sites.

Context

Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relative calm, demonstrations violently resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government to produce a report on who in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 400 people have been killed and 15,000 wounded since protests began.

Advice

Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in areas affected by anti-government demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.

The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.