ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – At least 15 people, protesters and security forces, were reportedly wounded in clashes in the port region of Umm Qasr in Iraq’s southern Basra province, while authorities in Karbala put the province on high alert.
“Early casualties have reached over 15 wounded protesters and army troops in the Umm Qasr subdistrict of Basra,” a source told Shafaaq news late on Monday. The area is on the Kuwait border and is a port town.
Umm Qasr receives imports of grain, vegetable oils, and sugar shipments and is one of the most significant ports in Iraq.
Protesters have shut down the port on multiple occasions as part of Iraq’s widespread protests that began in early October, which have led to the deaths of upward to 460 protesters and over 17,600 injuries.
In Karbala, which is about 80 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, demonstrators reportedly burnt tires on the Karbala-Baghdad road, halting traffic, local media Alsumaria reported.
Earlier in the day, protesters held a funeral procession for Fahem al-Tai, a 53-year-old activist whom unidentified gunmen assassinated in a drive-by shooting.
The Karbala police department said in a statement that they were investigating the incident.
Security forces in Baghdad were also vigilant throughout Monday. “The security forces are tightening measures throughout the capital with a heavy security deployment within the demonstration grounds in anticipation of any emergency,” Alsumaria quoted a source as saying.
Demonstrators in Iraq are calling for radical change in Iraq’s political system, which they say fails to address their needs, but, rather, serves the interests of a small governing elite.
The developments have forced now-Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi to hand in his resignation. In an extraordinary session held on Dec. 1 in the capital, the national Parliament voted to accept Abdul Mahdi’s bid to step down.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany