Iraq

Iraq begins 3 days of national mourning for victims of recent violent clashes

Iraq has begun three days of national mourning over the deaths of more than 100 people who were killed during the recent violent clashes in Baghdad and the country’s south.

Flags were flown at half-mast Thursday to mourn those who lost their lives during a week of unrest and violence across various parts of the country.

Those killed — demonstrators and police — have been declared “martyrs” and their families will receive compensation.

Protests erupted in the Iraqi capital Baghdad last week and soon spread to southern cities, with officials saying suspicious elements had infiltrated the ranks of peaceful demonstrators.

The peaceful protests turned ugly after armed elements and violent rioters entered the scene, starting to vandalize public property and attempting to enter the Green Zone in Baghdad — which houses government offices and foreign diplomatic missions.

The Interior Ministry recently said 104 people, including eight security officers, had been killed and more than 6,000 people wounded in the mayhem.

Iraqi officials say “malicious hands” and “infiltrators” are behind the killing of both protesters and security forces and have pledged “exhaustive probes” to find them.

They have also acknowledged that the military used “excessive force” in some cases across Baghdad’s northeastern district of Sadr City.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s government has sought to address demonstrators’ grievances by pledging to propose a cabinet reshuffle to parliament on Thursday.

The government has proposed reforms to lower youth unemployment, with the labor ministry announcing an online job register. The government has also ordered housing aid.

Life normal in Baghdad

Since the protests and violence calmed on Tuesday, life has returned to normal in the capital Baghdad and other Iraqi cities

Traffic in Baghdad clogged the main roads of the sprawling city of nine million inhabitants on Thursday as businesses, schools and government offices reopened.

At checkpoints into the city and on main roads, however, vehicles were searched and additional troops were deployed.

The recent unrest has shattered nearly two years of relative stability in the country since the defeat of Daesh in 2017.

Iraq suffered for decades under the rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein and UN sanctions, before the 2003 US-led invasion started years of war in the Arab country.

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