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Iraq seeks end to protests ahead of Pope’s visit

March 1, 2021 at 8:18 am

A youth draped in an Iraqi flag flashes the victory gesture while standing before a statue of 19th century Iraqi cleric and poet Mohamed Said al-Habboubi (1849-1915) at the square named after him where anti-government demonstrators are gathering, in Iraq’s southern city of Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar province on 29 November 2020. (Photo by Asaad NIAZI / AFP) (Photo by ASAAD NIAZI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Iraqi government has been negotiating with anti-government protesters in the Dhi Qar Governorate in a bid to convince them to halt their protests during Pope Francis’ historic visit to the governorate, Russia Today reported.

The agency quoted an Iraqi political source as saying that the government is trying to convince the protesters to calm the situation during the Pope’s visit to the governorate, adding that the government may also impose a complete curfew during the visit.

On Friday, at least four anti-government protesters were killed and many more were injured after security forces fired on crowds in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar.

Reuters quoted a hospital source as saying that most of the protesters had died from bullet wounds and that around 120 more had been wounded.

At least 57 members of the Iraqi security forces were also injured.

Pope Francis is scheduled to begin a four-day visit to Iraq on Friday to show solidarity with the Christian community there.

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