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30 Nov 2019 | 04:12 PM UTC

Iraq: Protesters set fire to shrine in Najaf November 30 /update 73

Protesters set fire to entrance of Hakim shrine in Najaf on November 30; clashes reported in Baghdad and Nassiriya

security
transportation
IRQ

Event

Protesters reportedly set fire to the entrance of the Hakim shrine in Najaf on Saturday, November 30. Security forces fired live rounds and tear gas canisters to disperse the crowds; at least three people were killed and 24 others wounded as a result.

Demonstrations were also reported in Baghdad and Nassiriya on Saturday. In Baghdad, at least 11 people were wounded after security forces forcibly dispersed protesters in the vicinity of the Ahrar bridge. Police also used live fire and tear gas to repel protesters on two main bridges in Nassiriya.

On Sunday, December 1, the Iraqi parliament is expected to either vote or accept outright Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's resignation. Abdul Mahdi submitted his official resignation to parliament on Saturday.

Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in Baghdad, Najaf, Nasiriyah, and other major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. 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.