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45 Killed As Protests In OPEC’s Second-Largest Producer Escalate

At least 45 people were killed by security forces in Iraq on Thursday on the deadliest day since mass protests in OPEC’s second-largest oil producer began in early October.

According to police and medical sources who spoke to Reuters, at least 29 people were shot dead in the city of Nassiriya in Iraq’s south, after security forces opened fire on protesters blocking a bridge in the city.

Since the beginning of the protests in Iraq in early October, more than 320 people have died.

The anti-government protests in Iraq continued in November, with protesters blocking roads leading to five oil fields in the southern Iraqi province of Basra, which is home to the biggest oil fields and the key oil export terminal in OPEC’s second-largest producer.

Protests have quickly spread from Baghdad to the southern city of Basra, where people are angry that the massive oil revenues the government is raking in don’t go towards improving basic services such as water and electricity. Protesters are also angry with endemic corruption and want the leaders, who do nothing for ordinary people, to resign.

Iraq has sent military and police forces to the oil-rich areas in the south to secure the re-opening of roads that had been closed by protesters.

In the south of Iraq alone, security forces have killed 36 people and wounded another 245 since Wednesday evening, after protesters burned the consulate of Iran in the holy city of Najaf, security and medical officials told AP.

“The street was filled with blood,” an eyewitness told Amnesty International on Thursday, describing how security forces used live ammunition to disperse protesters and reclaim a bridge in Nassiriya.

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“The scenes from Nasiriyah this morning more closely resemble a warzone than city streets and bridges. This brutal onslaught is just the latest in a long series of deadly events where Iraqi security forces meted out appalling violence against largely peaceful protesters,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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