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Iraq PM Abadi visits Basra after week of violence

Abadi has scrambled to defuse the anger in Basra. [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 September, 2018

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Protests first broke out in July in oil-rich Basra province before spreading to other parts of the country, as demonstrators demanded jobs and condemned corruption among Iraqi officials.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived on Monday in Basra, the oil-rich southern city where protests over government neglect have escalated into deadly violence, his office said.

Calm returned to the city late on Saturday after 12 protesters were killed and many of Basra's institutions were torched last week.

Protests first broke out in July in oil-rich Basra province before spreading to other parts of the country, as demonstrators demanded jobs and condemned corruption among Iraqi officials.

Anger in Basra flared on Tuesday over a growing health crisis, after more than 30,000 people were hospitalised by pollution in the city's water supply.

Since then, protesters have flooded the streets, clashing with security forces and torching the provincial headquarters, the Iranian consulate, and the offices of militias.

Human rights groups have accused security forces of using excessive force.

Officials have blamed the deaths and violence on "vandals" who infiltrated the demonstrators.

Abadi has scrambled to defuse the anger. 

In July, authorities had already pledged a multi-billion dollar emergency plan to revive infrastructure and services in southern Iraq following the first wave of protests.

On Saturday, his government announced it would allocate an unspecified amount of extra funds for Basra.

But demonstrators were unimpressed, saying the billions of dollars pledged in July have failed to materialise.

Abadi, who took office in September 2014 - a few months after the Islamic State group onslaught in northern and western Iraq - is widely blamed for the use of excessive force against the protesters, and poor performance regarding public services.

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