Ten wounded in north Iraq demos

Ten protesters were wounded in clashes with Kurdish security forces in the latest violent rally in Iraq demanding that officials combat graft and improve basic services.

Updated: Feb 20, 2011, 00:22 AM IST

Sulaimaniyah: Ten protesters were
wounded on Saturday in clashes with Kurdish security forces in the
latest violent rally in Iraq demanding that officials combat
graft and improve basic services.

The rally, along with another in the same Kurdish
city and others in Baghdad, came after two protests in as many
days earlier this week left three people dead and more than
100 wounded.

"Ten people who were demonstrating were wounded in
the head, the arm or the back," said Raykot Hama Rashid, the
head of the provincial health department in Sulaimaniyah
province, in the northern autonomous Kurdish region.
He said the people had suffered bruises after being
hit by sticks and gun butts.

The confrontations broke out when protesters
attempted, for the second time in three days, to storm an
office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional
president Massud Barzani, the dominant political bloc in the
region.

On Thursday, demonstrators attempted a similar
tactic, only for security forces to fire into the air, killing
two people and leaving 54 others wounded.

More than 1,000 people had attended the protest,
which began in the early afternoon at a main square in
Sulaimaniyah, to call for the release of individuals arrested
over Thursday`s rally.

They also called for the prosecution of the head of
the city`s KDP office who, they claimed, gave the order for
security forces to open fire.

Earlier in the day, around 2,000 students at
Sulaimaniyah University demonstrated on campus, demanding an
apology from Barzani for Thursday`s deaths.

"The authorities in the region do not understand
what democracy means," said Frishta Karim, a 21-year-old
university student. "We firmly reject the use of weapons
against demonstrators."

Police at the rally refused to allow the protesters
to exit the campus, a journalist at the scene said.

One banner called on Barzani, whose KDP is the
dominant political force in the region, "to apologise to the
people of Sulaimaniyah for his guards` shootings."

Barzani has called for a full investigation into
the incident.

Immediately after Thursday`s protests, looters
attacked the offices of opposition movement Goran in Arbil and
Dohuk provinces that, along with Sulaimaniyah, make up the
Kurdish region.

Goran denied it was part of the Thursday
demonstration, and party officials have claimed that the
looters were KDP loyalists.

PTI