Iraq: Many killed as police open fire on Sadr's supporters

Iraq: Many killed as police open fire on Sadr's supporters
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A curfew has been imposed in all provinces of Iraq after Sadr's supporters have stormed government institutions in Baghdad following their leader's announcement to retire.

A curfew was declared across Iraq on Monday, and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi suspended the Cabinet's sessions, after the supporters of the Sadrist Movement began to storm government institutions following an announcement of "definitive retirement" by their leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

Shiite cleric Sadr announced his “definitive retirement” from politics and the closure of all affiliated institutions on Monday, 10 months after his movement emerged as the winner in the October elections.

“I decided to not interfere in political affairs and I now announce my definitive retirement and the closure of all institutions,” Sadr said in a statement, adding that the holy shrine, the holy museum, and Sadr’s heritage authority would be the only places left open.

Sadr had given a three day ultimatum to Iraqi political parties on Saturday, saying he would sign an agreement only with parties and individuals who have not been part of the political processes since the US occupation in 2003.

Sadr's office also issued three directives on Monday.

"It is strictly prohibited to interfere in all political, governmental and media issues, raise slogans, flags and political chants, and use any media, including social media platforms, in the name of the Sadrist movement," it said.

As Sadr's announcement of retirement sent his followers into the streets of the capital, where they stormed the Green Zone, the site of Parliament, government offices and diplomatic missions, including the US Embassy, the Joint Operations Command (JOC) declared a curfew to begin from 03:30 PM local time, around the same time the directives were announced.

At least 12 protesters were killed and more than 100 were injured by Iraqi security forces who opened fire on them inside the Green Zone.

The political deadlock in Iraq has been continuing since the elections last October as political parties have not been able to come to terms to form a new government.