One killed in Iraq’s Kurdistan region as protest turns violent

One man was killed when a protest in Iraq's Kurdistan region turned violent on Friday

Published: Updated:

One man was killed when a protest in Iraq's Kurdistan region turned violent on Friday, two officials told Reuters, in the most sustained display of street discontent there since 2011.

Five other people were wounded in the city of Qaladize following a week of strikes and demonstrations that threaten to shake Kurdistan's stability while it is at war with Islamic State militants.

The protests are being fuelled by an economic crisis that has left the Kurdistan regional government unable to pay employees' salaries.

Friday's demonstration turned violent when protesters headed towards the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Qaladize, the two officials said.

"The firing came from the KDP," said Hawsar Wshyar Mohammed Amin, a member of the Sulaimaniyah provincial council from former oppostion party Gorran. "The protest is ongoing and it's going in a dangerous direction."

But Hamid Qaladizei, a member of the KDP branch in the city, denied they had opened fire on stone-throwing protesters and said they were not to blame for the man's death.

"We acted very responsibly," Qaladizei said. "There are people behind these protesters who are provoking. The number of police are not enough to protect us and control the situation."

The economic crisis began in early 2014 when Baghdad slashed funds to the region, and has been exacerbated by the conflict with Islamic State and a drop in oil prices that has pushed the region to the verge of bankruptcy.

Protesters are also frustrated with political deadlock over the presidency of Massoud Barzani, which they say has compounded the economic crisis.

The last serious bout of unrest in the region was in 2011, when Kurds protested against corruption and nepotism.