Iraq protesters bury demonstrators killed overnight

2020-02-06 12:08:00

Iraqi anti-government protesters Thursday (February 6) vowed to push on with their wave off rallies as they buried seven fellow activists killed overnight in violence blamed on supporters of a powerful cleric.

Loyalists of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr -- a militiaman-turned-politician with a cult-like following -- had raided a protest camp in Iraq's shrine city of Najaf late Wednesday.

Seven anti-government demonstrators were killed by bullets to the head or chest, medics in the city said, and dozens more were wounded. In the melee, tents where protesters had slept for weeks were burned down.

The death toll of assault carried out by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr against Iraqi protesters in central Iraq province of Najaf rose to 11, a medical source told Anadolu Agency Thursday. 

"The majority of the dead and wounded were shot by guns and stabbed with knives," the source, who works at Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital in Najaf, told AA.

The source added that more than 120 people were injured in the attacks.

It marked the bloodiest episode yet in escalating tensions between the bulk of the demonstrators and Sadr, who had initially backed the rallies but split with the movement suddenly last weekend.

Sadr then endorsed Mohammad Allawi as the country's new prime minister designate, in stark contrast to most of the protesters who reject the politician as an establishment figure.

In Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Thursday, anti-Allawi demonstrators said they were determined to continue the protests that started in October and have repeatedly been marred by violence.

Nearly 490 people have been killed and 30,000 wounded, most of them demonstrators, according to a count compiled by AFP from security and medical sources.

"We've finally got used to it," said Tayba, a Baghdad high school student who had the Iraqi flag tied around her shoulders.

"In fact, we're even more determined. Before, the students used to hold just one demonstration a week, now there are three."

Based on AFP, AA

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