44 die in Iraq; Ecuador simmers
BAGHDAD: Thedeathtollfromdays of violent demonstrationsacross Iraq surged to 44 onFriday, most of themkilledinthelast 24 hours, as unrest rapidly accelerated across the country despite aplea fromtheprimeministerforcalm.
In an overnight TV address, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said he understood the frustration of thepublicbutthere wasno“magicsolution” to Iraq’s problems. He made reform pledges, butthesedrewascornful response from demonstrators.
The violent demonstrations have escalated by the day since they first erupted on Tuesday, sweeping across the country spontaneously, without public backing from any organised political group and taking the authorities by surprise.
Security forces have fired live ammunitionatcrowdsofmainly young men, and gunmen have occasionally fired back. Hundreds were wounded, including membersofthesecurityforcesas well as demonstrators.
Police and medical sources told Reuters the death toll of at least 44 included 18 people killed in the southern city of Nassiriya, 16 in Baghdad, four in the southerncityofAmaraandfourinBaquba, to the capital’s north.
Otherdeathswerereportedin two other southern cities, Hilla andNajaf. Curfewswereimposed in anumberofcities. Authorities shut roads into the capital from thenorthandnortheastandwere sendingreinforcements to Baghdad’s densely-populated east. Military convoyswerebeingsent to Nassiriya, the city worsthit by the violence.
Protesters in Baghdad gathered in darkness by a bonfire set among the flaming wreckage of an armoured vehicle, across the Tigris River from the government compound. QUITO: Protests over fuel subsidy cutsparalysedtransportinmajor Ecuadorean cities for a second day on Friday after unrest that has led to 275 arrests andinjured 28 policemen.
Witnesses said bus and taxi services remainedonstrikeafter fuel prices soared on Thursday following President Lenin Moreno’sfiscal measuresearlier in the week.