At least three Iraqi protesters and two Iraqi policemen were killed in Baghdad after security forces used tear gas and live fire to disperse crowds and prevent them from blocking roads, according to medical sources.
Demonstrators in Iraq took to the streets and blocked main roads throughout the country Monday, as the deadline for the government to meet the demands of the protesters expires.
Footage showed protesters in the capital blocking main roads. The Iraqi News Agency says several people have been detained for trying to block Mohamed al-Qasim road, which connects the southern and northern parts of Baghdad.
The Iraqi National Security Council authorized security forces to arrest those who blocked roads during the protests, according to Al Arabiya sources.
Meanwhile, the Baghdad Operations Command confirmed its full commitment to the outgoing Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi’s directions in protecting peaceful demonstrators and securing the main demonstration square in Baghdad, Tahrir Square, and surrounding areas, the Iraqi Security Media Cell said on Twitter.
Iraqi security forces fired tear gas canisters at protesters to prevent them from blocking main roads in Baghdad, as the government failed to meet the deadline for the demands set by protesters.https://t.co/TRI3qrxDFo pic.twitter.com/4FLwhXfvtO— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 20, 2020
Protesters also blocked and set up tents on the main road between Baghdad and Nasiriyah, two of the biggest cities in the country, the Iraqi News Agency reported. The highway connecting al-Diwaniyah and other provinces has been closed too.
Iraqi protesters earlier in the day closed main roads in al-Wasit governorate’s city of Kut which borders Iran, Al Arabiya’s correspondent reported.
The UN Iraq Representative urged renewed push for reform and called for demonstrations to remain peaceful, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq tweeted.
The representative also urged the Iraqi authorities to do everything to protest the peaceful demonstrators. “Violent suppression of peaceful protesters is intolerable and must be avoided at all costs,” the statement published by UNAMI said.
Monday was the deadline for the government to meet the protesters’ demands, the most important of which are forming a temporary government, holding early elections, and investigating the death of protesters and kidnapping of activists.
Protesters closed roads and bridges on Sunday in several provinces, with reports of schools and government institutions closing as well, in preparation for the deadline of January 20.
Al Arabiya’s correspondent also reported heavy security forces presence in southern areas.