Activists have called for fresh nationwide protests on Friday, October 11, despite an announcement by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, October 10. Although the exact times and locations of the protests were not immediately available, a heightened security presence has been reported in traditional demonstration squares, notably around Tahrir Square and near Jumhuriyah bridge in Baghdad. Protesters are likely to gather in other areas across the city if the squares are cordoned off by police forces in an attempt to disperse crowds.
On Thursday, the Iraqi government announced that internet restrictions will be in effect every night during the work week. According to a statement released by the government, internet services will be available between the hours of 08:00 and 15:00 (local time). However, local sources have reported that access to services vary despite the official restriction hours. While the government has not confirmed when the restrictions will end, restoration of normal internet services is expected following the Shi'a Arba'een observance from Saturday, October 19, through Sunday, October 20.
A heightened security presence is expected in Baghdad and other urban centers over the coming several hours. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Demonstrations first broke out on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate public services provision, and a lack of job opportunities. According to the government, 153 people have been killed in protest violence. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced three days of mourning beginning on October 10 for protest victims.
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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