Middle East
Iraq is under curfew and Internet blackout as government tries to curb protests
Demonstrators walk past burning tires during a curfew in Baghdad, two days after nationwide anti-government protests turned violent. (Wissm Al-Okili/Reuters)
By Mustafa Salim and Louisa Loveluck
Oct. 3, 2019 at 1:07 p.m. PDT
BAGHDAD — Protests flared across Iraq on Thursday as authorities imposed curfews and cut access to the Internet, plunging the country into an information blackout.
As night fell, officials said at least 25 people had died and more than 1,000 were wounded after security forces fired tear gas and bullets into crowds of protesters for a third day and demonstrations continued in southern cities. 
Support our journalism. Subscribe today.
“The hospitals are filling up,” said Ali al-Bayati, a spokesman for Iraq’s human rights commission. Many people, he said, were in critical condition.
Iraq’s widening protests have centered on issues that plague everyday life in the oil-rich state, including corruption, poor services and unemployment. For most civilians, there have been few improvements in the two years since Iraqi forces pushed Islamic State militants from major cities, and for many Iraqis, life is getting worse. 
Hundreds wounded in Iraq as police fire tear gas, bullets at protesters
Much of the country woke to an indefinite curfew, declared early Thursday by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. Without the Internet, people gathered what news they could by phone, sending the rumor mill swirling. 
Story continues below advertisement
In Baghdad, the violent crackdown appeared only to have drawn out more protestersto the streets. Several thousand demonstrators were gathered in the center of the city Thursday night. Helicopters circled low, hovering over clouds of tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out. Protesters piled the wounded into carts and drove off in a frantic race to the hospital. 
Haider al-Lami, 29, said he had joined the protests because they appeared to have grown organically, rather than as the result of a call from political parties. “This is an uprising from the people who suffer. It represents them and only them,” he said. “I hope this can reform a broken system.”
Abdul Mahdi’s fragile year-old government has struggled to appoint ministers to key positions and to tackle graft that is siphoning money from public services and into the pockets of politically connected people. The corruption is so severe that economists now call it endemic. In Baghdad, one of the raised signs read: “Enough.”
Story continues below advertisement
In a televised speech Thursday night, Abdul Mahdi urged calm and called on lawmakers to support him in reshuffling cabinet posts. There is no “magic solution” to Iraq’s chronic governance problems and graft, he said, but he pledged to try to pass a law granting poor families a basic income, the Reuters news agency reported.
Early Thursday, the U.S.-led coalition reported explosions inside or near the city’s Green Zone, a heavily fortified pocket of land hosting government institutions, embassies and military bases.
“No coalition facility was struck. Coalition troops always reserve the right to defend ourselves; attacks on our personnel will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for the coalition.
Iraqi security forces opened fire and threw tear gas at anti-government protesters in Baghdad on Oct. 3, in clashes which left one child dead. (Reuters)
There were also suggestions that political scores were being settled under the cover of the violence. Security officials reported Thursday that masked gunmen had burst into the house of high-profile activist and cartoonist Hussein Adel Madani, killing him and his wife, Sara Madani. Their 2-year-old daughter survived. 
Story continues below advertisement
Iran’s semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported Thursday that the unrest had forced the closure of two border crossings popular with Iranian pilgrims. Gen. Qasem Rezai, a commander of the country’s border guards, said the Khosravi and Chazbeh crossings had been closed the night before. 
Loveluck reported from London.
Syria and Iraq open a key border crossing closed since 2012
Dozens of Shiite pilgrims killed in Iraq stampede
Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world
Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news
Louisa Loveluck is the Baghdad bureau chief. She was previously based in Beirut for the Post and worked as the Cairo correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.
A lemur was kidnapped from a zoo, authorities say. A 5-year-old helped crack the case.
June 22, 2021
Baking powder vs. baking soda: How they’re different, which to use when and more
June 21, 2021
The rising cost of being in the National Guard: Reservists and guardsmen are twice as likely to be hungry as other American groups
June 22, 2021
Democrats signal a shift toward accepting voter ID laws
June 22, 2021
Police officer killed in ‘ambush’ by man who ‘expressed hatred’ of law enforcement, officials say
June 22, 2021
The deadly black fungus striking India’s recovering covid patients
Footage of Amazon destroying thousands of unsold items in Britain prompts calls for official investigation
Pressure builds to open U.S.-Canada border
Kim Jong Un, fearing loss of control, has grooming and parenting advice for North Korean women
Militias in Afghanistan’s north are taking up the fight against the Taliban

Today's Headlines
The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning.
© 1996-2021 The Washington Post
Contact the Newsroom
Contact Customer Care
Request a Correction
Send a News Tip
Report a Vulnerability
Download the Washington Post App
Policies & Standards
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Print Products Terms of Sale
Digital Products Terms of Sale
Submissions & Discussion Policy
RSS Terms of Service
Ad Choices
Skip to main contentDemocracy Dies in DarknessGet one year for $40
WorldAfrica Americas Asia Europe Middle East Foreign Correspondents