Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on the ruling Iraqi government to resign and for new elections to be held in the country amid escalating, nationwide anti-government protests that have left at least 65 people dead as of Friday, October 4. Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi called for calm on Friday as at least ten protesters were killed and some 190 others were wounded in violent protests and clashes with security forces in Baghdad. Military sources reported at least two police officers and two civilians were killed by sniper fire. Sporadic gunfire has been reported in Baghdad through late Friday evening (local time). Police reportedly shot and killed three people as they attempted to raid provincial government headquarters in Al-Diwaniyah.
Security forces have suspended traffic on roads into Baghdad from the north and northeast. A heightened security presence was reportedly being deployed in eastern Baghdad as of late on Friday, and military reinforcements were being sent to Nasiriyah. Curfews have been imposed in multiple cities. Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi claimed late Friday that the curfew in Baghdad would be lifted from 05:00 on Saturday, October 5.
Internet service disruptions continued throughout Iraq as of Friday. Access to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, and other social media apps has been limited or completely blocked.
Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected in affected cities over the coming days as protests continue. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
The nationwide protests, which began October 1, have been organized to denounce a perceived lack of employment opportunities and allegations of government corruption.
Individuals in Baghdad and across Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, anticipate internet service disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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