Basra provincial building to be evacuated for security reasons

Protesters gather near the main provincial government building in Basra, Iraq July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani

Basra ( – Head of the Basra Provincial Council Walid al-Kitan has ordered the government building in Basra to be evacuated from staffers for security reasons, a well-informed source was quoted as saying.

“The evacuation process came as a precautionary measure after a protester was killed yesterday while taking part in a rally in Basra,” the source said.

Earlier, Basra governor Asaad al-Eidani requested Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to replace Basra Operations Commander Jamil al-Shammari as security forces were blamed for several deaths among protesters in the past period.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Basra provincial headquarters Monday to protest against corruption, poor public services and unemployment.

Protesters hurled stones, set fire to tires and tried to storm the building, prompting security forces to open fire at them, leaving a protester dead.

Oil-rich Basra is one of the southern Iraqi cities that have recently witnessed mass protests over the dire state of the nation’s economy. The demonstrators are rallying against poor public services and corruption.

The demonstrations started last July in Basra province, but they later extended to other cities, including Amara, Nasiriya, Karbala and the Shiite holy city of Najaf. There were also protests in parts of the capital, Baghdad.

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