Iraq issues arrest warrant for commander accused of ordering protester killings

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The Iraqi judiciary issued an arrest warrant and travel ban on Sunday against Commander Jamil al-Shammari for allegedly ordering the killing of demonstrators in the Dhi Qar province, which has been a hotbed of violence during the Iraqi uprising.

According to the media center of the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council, the investigative body of the judiciary, which is mandated with investigating cases relating to protests in Dhi Qar, ordered the arrest.

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi had on Thursday sacked the military commander which he had dispatched earlier in the day to “restore order” to the protest-hit southern city after a crackdown there killed 22 protesters.

Iraqis across the country marched Sunday to mourn protesters killed in anti-government rallies, even turning out in Sunni areas where people were previously too afraid to join in.

After a spike in violence days ago left nearly 70 people dead across three cities, Iraqis in nearly all provinces turned out in solidarity.

In Sunday's marches, hundreds of students dressed in black organized a mourning march in the northern city of Mosul, on the city's university campus.

“It's the least Mosul can give to the martyrs of Dhi Qar and Najaf,” said Zahraa Ahmed, a dentistry student, naming the two provinces where most recent victims were from.

“The protesters are asking for their basic rights so the government should have answered from the beginning.”

Another student, Hussein Kheder, carrying an Iraqi flag, said the whole country was now on the same page politically.

“Now the government needs to answer to the protesters' demands,” he told AFP.

AFP's correspondent reported calm in Nasiriyah on Sunday after three consecutive days of violence.

The protest hotspot is the birthplace of Abdel Mahdi, who came to power just a year ago based on a shaky alliance between rival parties.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Council of Representatives, on Sunday, is set to hold an emergency session chaired by Mohammed al-Halbousi during which the latest events in the province of Dhi Qar are to be discussed, especially the massacre of Nasiriyah.

Al Arabiya and al-Hadath sources explained that parliament will also discuss the election law, following the resignation of Abdel Mahdi. The session is also expected to discuss the resignation of the prime minister and his faults in the Dhi Qar issue.

The dismissal of the Iraqi government can only be done with the approval of the absolute majority of the parliament, after which the president assumes the role of prime minister until a replacement is found.

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