Iraqi premier warns of armed conflict amid Basra turmoil

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is seen on a screen as he speaks via a videoconference during a ministerial summit to hold discussion on the future of Mosul city, post-Islamic State, in Paris, France, October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned on Saturday that unrest in the southern province of Basra could turn into an armed conflict, urging to not involve political considerations into service-related demands.

Sputnik quoted an Iraqi parliament source saying that Abadi, during an exceptional parliament session on Saturday, warned that “we have to separate the political aspect from the security and service one, otherwise, the disagreement will develop into an armed conflict”.

Protests have recently caused the province’s government office and the Iranian consulate to catch fire, while security officials said earlier today that four mortar shells landed near the province’s airport. They also announced changes to the province’s security leadership.

Health authorities were quoted saying that violence since yesterday has left three more protesters dead. Authorities earlier counted at least seven fatalities.

Demonstrators have voiced anger over water contamination and poor public services in the province, renewing earlier protests in July  that followed the parliament polls held in May.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed yesterday to address protesters’ demands but warned against sabotage.

Current demonstrations represent a major challenge to Abadi who seeks to secure a renewed term in office through forming the largest bloc in the parliament that is legally entitled to form the next government.

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