HT Estates

44 die in Iraq; Ecuador simmers

- Agencies letters@hindustant­imes.com

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.

 ?? AP ?? Protesters during a demonstrat­ion in Baghdad.
AP Protesters during a demonstrat­ion in Baghdad.

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