Violent clashes were reported in Baghdad's Wathba Square following the 'Million Man March' protest on Tuesday, December 10. Police at the square used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters in the capital. Protests in other areas were reported as largely peaceful, however. Some sources indicate that thousands of protesters participated in Tuesday's events. An undisclosed number of participants were hurt, though deaths were not immediately reported. Other sources reported that ten people were kidnapped, though released shortly thereafter.
Roadblocks, other transportation and business disruptions, and a heightened security presence are to be expected throughout Baghdad and other urban centers in the coming days as protests, spontaneous or otherwise, remain possible.
Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relative calm, demonstrations violently resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government to produce a report on who in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 450 people have been killed and unconfirmed estimates state that over 20,000 people have been wounded since protests began.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in areas affected by anti-government demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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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