Kurdistan turmoil leaves 5 protesters dead: sources

A scene of encounters between security and anti-government protesters in Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Sulaimaniya ( Violence between security and anti-government protesters in Iraqi Kurdistan left at least five protesters dead, sources were quoted saying Tuesday as violent demonstrations enter a second day to demand payment of delayed salaries and enhanced services.

Iraq news website al-Journal News quoted a security source in the Kurdistan province of Sulaimaniya saying that five demonstrators were killed and 80 were injured during encounters in Ranya area.

The source said injuries continue to rise.

Meanwhile, Saeed Suleiman, the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s official in Ranya, told Kurdish network Rudaw that demonstrators shot gunfire at the office, whereas members inside the office shot in the air in response.

In a related development, the mayors of Chamchamal and Kafri declared a curfew after hours of encounters between demonstrators and security, NRTTV reported.

Thousands of Iraqi Kurds staged protests on Monday to decry delay of salaries and lack of services in parts of the region.

Demonstrators reportedly torched the offices of ruling and opposition political parties, while police responded with tear gas.

The Kurdistan government released a statement defending the right to protest but warned against destruction of property. Its security council, meanwhile, expressed concerns of military activity by the central government near one of the region’s areas.

The Baghdad-based Iraqi government had vowed to send salaries of Kurdish public employees following a political crisis and a later military standoff that resulted from the referendum the autonomous Kudistan region held in September for secession from Iraq.

The Iraqi government had adopted penal measures against the Kurdish authorities following the poll, including a ban on financial transactions.

The issues of employees payments and the region’s share in the national budget had always been a subject of dispute between both governments.


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