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6 Nov, 2021 00:16

Dozens injured outside Baghdad’s Green Zone as clashes erupt over Iraqi election results (VIDEOS)

Dozens injured outside Baghdad’s Green Zone as clashes erupt over Iraqi election results (VIDEOS)

At least 125 people were injured in fierce clashes between police and protesters as angry crowds attempted to storm Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.

Videos published on social media show protesters who claim there was fraud in the recent parliamentary election pelting security forces with rocks. Officers wearing riot gear and armed with shields responded with tear gas, according to local media reports.

A crowd of around 300 reportedly attempted to break into the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses Iraqi government buildings and foreign embassies – including the US diplomatic compound – but apparently failed to do so.

The protesters also set up tents for a sit-in near the area. The encampment was reportedly burned down on Friday evening. 

Videos show areas of Baghdad on fire and covered with smoke.

Gunfire can be heard in some videos, although the source is unclear. Reuters and Al Jazeera reported that police fired live ammunition into the air to disperse the protesters.

The demonstrators are believed to be supporters of pro-Iranian Shiite parties, which suffered heavy losses in the parliamentary election on October 10. The parties challenged the results, alleging vote fraud, including ballot counting irregularities. However, the election commission has already rejected most of the 1,300 appeals submitted by an umbrella group of Shia organizations. 

With the final results of the vote pending, people took to the streets on Friday, seeing it as “the last chance for the government [and the] election commission to hold a recount of all the votes,” according to Al Jazeera.

Clashes and riots apparently continued into the night, as videos on social media show protesters erecting barricades and setting them on fire, as well as burning parked cars.

There have been unconfirmed reports about at least two deaths among the protesters, but the rumors have not been confirmed by the Health Ministry. In a statement on Friday, the ministry said that most of the 125 injured were security and law enforcement officers, and that only 27 of those injured were civilians. 

No gunshot wounds and no deaths were reported, the ministry said, adding that most injuries were mild to moderate.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered an investigation into Friday’s violence.

The early election held last month came in response to massive 2019 protests against corruption, poor services and unemployment. The vote saw several Shia parties losing support, but the biggest gains were made by a political force led by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which won 73 seats in the parliament out of a total of 329. Al-Sadr’s bloc is now expected to seek coalition partners to form a new government.

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