Nasiriyah – agencies: Six people were killed in clashes between demonstrators opposing the Iraqi government and others supporting the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, in the city of Nasiriyah in the south of the country, according to medical sources, while other cities imposed new security measures.
The clashes took place on Friday between supporters of the anti-government youth protest movement that began in October 2019 and supporters of al-Sadr, who called on his supporters to take to the streets in a show of political power as the legislative elections scheduled for next June approach.
In the city of Nasiriyah, anti-government activists accused Sadr’s supporters of shooting them and setting fire to their tents at their main gathering place in Al-Haboubi Square.
The clashes continued throughout the night, as medics reported that six people were killed until yesterday morning, five of them from gunshot wounds, and at least 60 wounded.
However, an AFP journalist reported that anti-government protesters returned to the square yesterday morning to re-set up their tents.
The authorities sacked the city’s police chief, opened an investigation, and imposed an overnight curfew in Nasiriya.
Other cities have also taken security measures, as Kut and Amara in the north imposed new restrictions on movement. Nasiriyah is a major stronghold of the anti-government protest movement.
The city also witnessed one of the bloodiest incidents since the start of the protests, as more than thirty people were killed in violence that accompanied the demonstrations on November 28 of last year.
The incident sparked widespread anger across Iraq, and the supreme Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for the resignation of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
The new Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, reached out to the demonstrators, as he sought to fulfill one of their most important demands by approving parliamentary elections in June 2021.
The elections will take place according to a new law, instead of voting on lists, as individuals will vote and constituencies will be reduced.
However, the majority of observers expect to postpone the polling date by at least a few months, and experts suggest that Al-Sadr and his candidates will benefit from the new election law.