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Iraq protests: All the latest updates –, Al Jazeera English

Iraq protests: All the latest updates –, Al Jazeera English

Nationwide protests broke out acrossIraqon Tuesday, as thousands of mostly young men demonstrated against corruption and calling for an end to endemic corruption in the oil-rich country . *****

Protesters have also called for improved public services such as electricity and water.

Security forces have responded using water cannon, tear gas, live rounds and rubber bullets. Dozens of protesters have been killed and hundreds more wounded.

Tensions have been exacerbated by a near-total internet blackout as the authorities seek to prevent protesters communicating with each other or posting footage of the chaotic demonstrations.

The mostly leaderless demonstrations are the biggest challenge yet to theone-year governmentof Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who has imposed curfews in Baghdad and other cities to try to stop the protests gathering steam.

Here are the latest updates from Iraq:

Friday, October 4

Iraq Grand Ayatollah backs protests

Iraq top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged security forces and protesters not to use violence, and criticized Iraqi leaders for failing to eradicate corruption

He has called on the Iraqi government to heed the protesters’ demands “before it is too late”.

In a letter read out by his representative Ahmed al-Safi during a sermon in the holy city of Kerbala, Sistani described the deaths from the protests as “sorrowful”, and maintained that the government has not “achieved anything on the ground. “

“Lawmakers hold the biggest responsibility for what is happening,” Sistani said.

He also said the government “must do what it can to improve public services, find work for the unemployed, end clientelism, deal with the corruption issue and send those implicated in it to prison”.

In Friday Prayer sermon, Ayatollah Sistani condemns attacks on peaceful protesters and security forces. He hopes everyone understands the dangerous consequences of violence and criticises the government, parliament and judiciary for failing to deliver real reform.# IraqProtests

– Hayder al-Khoei (@ 7ayder 87)October 4, 2019

Red Cross calls for restraint as protests continue

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was concerned by “increasingly violent clashes” between protesters and security forces.

“The use of force by security forces must be proportionate to the situation and is an exceptional measure,” said the ICRC’s head of delegation in Iraq, Katharina Ritz.

“In particular, firearms and live ammunition must only be used as a last resort, and to protect against an imminent threat to life.”

Death toll rises to 44: police, security sources

The death toll from three days of anti-government protests in Iraq climbed to 44, police and medical sources told Reuters.

Iraqi security forces fire on protesters in Baghdad

The largest number of casualties occurred in the southern city of Nasiriya, where 18 people were killed, followed by the capital Baghdad where the death toll stood at 16, they said.

The protests, in which hundreds of people have also been injured, began over unemployment and poor services but have escalated into calls for a change of government and pose one of the country biggest security challenges in years.

Qatar urges citizens not to travel to Iraq

Qatar’s foreign ministry advised its citizens on Friday not to travel to Iraq and urged those already there to leave immediately in view of ongoing unrest.

Iraqi security forces open fire on protesters in Baghdad

Iraqi security forces opened fired on dozens of protesters gathering in Baghdad on Friday for a fourth day of demonstrations against corruption, unemployment and poor public services.

“These protesters have now been dispersed to neighbor streets and there are running battles taking place,” said Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said there was “no magic solution” to Iraq problems but pledged to work on laws granting poor families a basic income, provide alternative housing, and fight corruption.

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