An indefinite curfew came into effect early Thursday in Iraq’s capital after two days of chaotic protests across the country that descended into violence and left nine dead.
Iraqi premier Adel Abdel Mahdi ordered the ban on movements across Baghdad starting at 5am local time to stem the popular demonstrations over widespread unemployment and state corruption.
Early Thursday, some cars and civilians were seen in the capital’s streets, an AFP photographer said, but residents are wary that more protests could erupt after firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for “a general strike”.
The tension has been exacerbated by a near-total internet shutdown, the closure of government offices and at least one overnight explosion that hit the Green Zone, where some ministries and embassies are located. A security source inside the area told AFP there were two blasts, likely caused by indirect fire a little over a week after two rockets hit near the US embassy there.
The apparent attack came hours after security forces sealed off the Green Zone “until further notice”, fearing angry protesters would swarm state buildings or foreign missions. Since erupting in Baghdad on Tuesday, the protests have spread to other cities in the country’s south.
Riot police in the capital have used water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds in an attempt to disperse protesters from the central Tahrir Square and other areas.
Into the night on Wednesday, marches from different parts of Baghdad attempted to converge on Tahrir. But with internet access virtually shut, demonstrators have struggled to communicate with each other or post footage of the latest clashes.—AFP