Iraqi top security body warns of security risks in peace rallies

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-14 19:58:57|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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BAGHDAD, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's National Security Council warned on Saturday that the ongoing demonstrations over lack of jobs and basic services could be misled to sabotage of institutions and destabilization of state security.

"Our security and intelligence services monitored small and organized groups trying to take advantage of peaceful demonstrations to sabotage and attack the state's institutions and private property," the council, chaired by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said in a statement after an emergency meeting.

It also called on Iraqi citizens to cooperate with security forces to hunt down the infiltrators in order to preserve the security and stability in the country.

The statement came as demonstrations continued in several provinces in central and southern Iraq, where hundreds of people took to the streets in protest of the government's failure to bring back public services after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, pledged on Friday to meet the demands of protesters during his visit to the southern oil hub of Basra.

"We will pay the necessary funds for Basra, which needs services and reconstruction," Abadi told tribal leaders and dignitaries after his meeting with local officials in Basra, some 550 km south of the capital Baghdad.

Abadi's visit to Basra came days after protests by hundreds of people in the region, including storming the oil fields of West Qurna-1 and West Qurna-2 in the north of Basra city.

The protests turned violent on Thursday at the entrance of the West Qurna-2 oil field as some protesters shoved the armed guards. A guard opened fire, wounding two protesters.

On July 8, a protester was killed and three others wounded when local police opened fire at a crowd of demonstrators against rising unemployment at an entrance of an oil field in West Qurna-2, some 80 km north of Basra.