November 14, 2018
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Police break up new protest in southern Iraq after demonstrators' deaths

Baghdad, Sep 5 (efe-epa).- Police broke up a protest in the oil-rich southern Iraqi province of Basra on Wednesday, a day after the deaths of several demonstrators in clashes with security forces.

An Iraqi police spokesman told EFE that at least five protesters had inhaled large amounts of the tear gas used by officers to disperse the march, in which hundreds of people participated.

The official denied that police used live ammunition against the demonstrators, who were protesting the contamination of wells in Basra that has caused thousands to go to hospitals across the province.

Police used tear gas when a group of protesters threw stones at the provincial government headquarters, which was partially burned down during a protest on Tuesday, the police spokesman said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) secretary-general, Jan Kubis, urged Iraqi authorities to investigate the killings of five people during protests to demand better health services in Basra.

The special UN representative urged Baghdad to heed protesters' demands for clean water and energy after violent clashes in Basra killed five people and left about 68 others - 41 civilians and 27 troops - injured.

"Mr. Kubis calls for calm and urges the authorities to avoid using disproportionate, lethal force against the demonstrators, provide the necessary protection for the people of Basra, ensure human rights while protecting law and order, and investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the outbreak of the violence," the statement said.

On Tuesday, a police spokesman told EFE that protesters threw stones at the security forces, leading officers to fire in the air and use tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Outgoing Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi held an emergency meeting on Tuesday with Basra Gov. Asaad al-Eidani to discuss solutions.

The anti-government protests broke out in July over unemployment, corruption and a lack of basic services, including electricity and drinking water.

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