Violent Protests Break Out in Iraq

Violent protests have broken out at various locations in Iraq, with anti-government protesters rallying against corruption, poor basic services and high unemployment.

Basra: In the country's second largest city, about 1,000 people protested on Friday, demanding better services, jobs and improved pensions. They called for the provincial governor to resign, and blocked a bridge for an hour.

Kurdistan: Seven offices of the Goran party in Erbil and Dohuk were attacked, in what officials say was a response to an attack on the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) offices in Sulaimaniyah a day earlier. Two people were killed in that protest, after security forces opened fire on demonstrators. Many Kurds complain that the two dominant political parties in the Kurdish region have a stranglehold on jobs and the economy.

President Barzani, of the Kurdish region, said in a statement: "I call on all parties to behave calmly and to preserve the peace in Kurdistan. I call on the KRG to open an immediate investigation into this incident and hold those responsible for today’s violence accountable."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said at a news conference in Baghdad: "The demonstrations are protected and here I say that the security forces are not allowed to use any force against any demonstrations. I say to the protesters, this is your right, (but) without violence. Don't allow troublemakers to incite problems and burn offices because this sabotage and corruption."

Protests were also held in Kut, where one person was killed on Thursday, Kirkuk, Nasiriya, and other towns.

(Sources: Reuters, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, AKnews, KRG)

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