ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi forces opened fire on demonstrators in the Kurdish-city of Khanaqin in Diyala Province, killing one and injuring six others, Mayor Mohammed Mulla Hassan said on Thursday.
Demonstrators, waving the flag of Kurdistan, were protesting against the takeover of the city by Iraqi forces who were deployed after an order by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
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Over 100,000 people have been displaced in Kirkuk and other disputed territories since Tuesday following the Shia militia and Iraqi forces’ attack.
Most of them fled to Erbil and Sulaimani provinces in the Kurdistan Region in fear of the forces’ abuses and mistreatment in the area.
Tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq have increased following the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum.
Although 93 percent of the population voted for secession from Iraq, Baghdad deemed the move “unconstitutional.”
Khanaqin, mainly populated by Kurds, lies in the province of Diyala. It is one of the disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad that has been under the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
The deployment of the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia and Iraqi forces to Khanaqin came after the withdrawal of Peshmerga forces in the south of Kirkuk on Tuesday to avoid clashing with Iraqi troops sent by the central government.
Since then, the Kurdish population in the city has protested the presence of Iraqi forces, accusing them of mistreating people and the national flag of Kurdistan.
The footage below, filmed by Iraqi forces, shows some of their troops burning the Kurdish flag in the center of the city.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany