Eyewitnesses stated that the supporters of the Sadrist movement’s leader, Muqtada Al-Sadr, fired live bullets on Thursday to disperse protesters in the city of Karbala in southern Iraq.
The eyewitnesses also told Anadolu Agency that dozens of Al-Sadr supporters known as “blue hats” stormed Al-Tarbiyah Square in the middle of Al-Tarbiyah City and attacked the protesters.
They added that Al-Sadr supporters carried batons and machine guns, and they fired live bullets in the air to disperse the protesters, amid clashes with them. Many demonstrators fled for fear of killing.
The eyewitnesses further stated that Al-Sadr supporters toppled the platform where the protesters used to express their positions for months in Al-Tarbiyah Square.
The “blue hats” members have launched an organised campaign, since Monday, to disperse the crowds of protesters in the country’s central and southern cities and towns using excessive force, following the orders of Al-Sadr.
Eleven protesters were killed, and 122 others were injured, on Wednesday, during Al-Sadr supporters’ attack on demonstrators who were protesting in the “Sadrists Square” in the centre of Najaf, stated medical sources and eyewitnesses to Anadolu.
These attacks come after protesters refused the assignment of former Communications Minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, who is backed by Al-Sadr, on Saturday, to form the government.
Since the beginning of October 2019, Iraq has been witnessing unprecedented protests interspersed with violent acts that caused the death of more than 600 people, according to Iraqi President Barham Salih and Amnesty International.
The protesters are demanding an honest independent prime minister who has not assumed high positions in the past and who has no affiliation to parties and other countries. They also hope for the departure and accountability of all political elites, who are accused of corruption and waste of state funds and who have ruled the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.