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Iraq anti-riot police violently disperse sit-in in Basra

Iraqi citizens protest against the government in Basra on 15 July 2018 [Hayder Abu Rizq/Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi citizens protest against the government in Basra on 15 July 2018 [Hayder Abu Rizq/Anadolu Agency]

Anti-riot police in Iraq on Saturday stormed a sit-in organised by anti-government protesters in Al-Bahariya Square, in the city of Basra, Anadolu news agency reported.

The agency quoted activists and eyewitnesses as saying that anti-riot police stormed the square where the sit-in was taking place without warning and used tear gas to disperse protesters before setting their tents on fire.

An activist in the Basra popular movement, Yasser Al-Najm, said at least ten protesters suffocated as a result of the tear gas.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses said the anti-riot police had reopened the Al-Bahariya Square upon orders issued by Governor Asaad Al-Eidani, noting that the site was cleared of protesters hours after a similar move was carried out in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

Last Monday, the Iraqi government announced that 240 people were wounded, including 200 security personnel, and that 141 demonstrators were arrested during protests that began the previous day to mark the first anniversary of anti-government protests that swept the country.

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