Iraq says 262 security members wounded in recent protests

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-17 23:49:50|Editor: yan
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BAGHDAD, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Iraq on Tuesday said that 262 security members have been wounded during recent protests in the country's central and southern provinces over lack of jobs and basic services.

"We have a total of 262 security members wounded during the demonstrations, including six in critical conditions," said Yahya Rasoul, spokesperson of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.

Rasoul accused some "infiltrators" in the peaceful protests of using "knives, batons, stones and live ammunition against security forces in charge of protecting the demonstrators."

The security forces adopted "wise attitude" towards the demonstrators, Rasoul said, stressing that it is necessary for them "not to be dragged behind those who try to collide with the security forces."

He said that there are orders not to use live ammunition against the demonstrators.

Meanwhile, dozens of demonstrators rallied at the main entrance to the Zubair oilfield, some 70 km west of Basra earlier on Tuesday, demanding for jobs and better public services, a local journalist told Xinhua.

He said that the protest did not affect the oil production in the oilfield, which is run by Italy's Eni.

Tuesday's protest came despite a series of measures taken by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to quell the street anger.

The measures included allocating 3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars (2.9 billion U.S. dollars) to carry out major projects for public services, such as electricity and water facilities, and providing thousands of jobs in government institutions.

Meanwhile, Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, issued an order of high alert for the security forces in response to the protests.

On Saturday, Iraq's National Security Council warned that the ongoing demonstrations could be misled to sabotage of institutions and destabilization of state security.

The protests turned violent on Thursday at the entrance of the West Qurna-2 oilfield 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 in West Qurna-2, some 80 km north of Basra.

According to the state-run Iraqiya channel, four demonstrators have been killed and about 140 others wounded since the start of protests in southern Iraq until Sunday, citing reports from the Iraqi Health Ministry.