Media sources have reported that police in Basra raided an Iran-backed militia's headquarters in the early morning (local time) on Monday, May 11, after reports that live ammunition rounds were being shot at protesters on Sunday, May 10. Members of the group in question, Thar Allah or God's Revolution, were arrested and police confiscated weapons and ammunition. Police also launched an investigation into the shooting, contributing to a promise current Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi made of investigating who has been behind attacks against protesters. The protest left one Iraqi dead and at least four others injured, though the fatality may have been due to clashes with security forces, as they opened fire on protesters who had gathered outside the Basra governorate building.
Demonstrations are expected to continue in cities across Iraq. A heightened security presence, as well as associated transportation and business disruptions, are to be expected around demonstration sites.
Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1, 2019, to protest alleged government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relatively calm demonstrations, violence resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government issuing them to produce a report on the members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) that were responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 670 people have been killed and over 24,400 people have been wounded since the protests began.
Individuals in Baghdad are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests as a precaution, anticipate a heightened security presence, budget ample travel time, and obey instructions issued by 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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