UPDATE – Basra protests leave 7 dead: Health Ministry


By Haydar Karaalp

BAGHDAD (AA) – Seven Iraqis have been killed during protests against poor public utilities in southern Basra province, according to the Health Ministry.

Ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr confirmed the total death toll to local media on Saturday, adding that Friday's protests had left three dead and 50 others injured.

In a statement earlier Saturday, al-Badr said the majority of those injured were civilians.

"Two policemen were among the injured in Friday’s protests," he said.

On Friday, an angry mob torched the Iranian consulate in Basra as well as a number of government buildings, the spokesman said.

Haymen Bajalan, a member of Iraq’s Human Rights Commission, had criticized the government’s handling of the unrest in Basra.

"There is a total government silence and insecurity in the province amid a rise in assaults on public and private property," he said.

Friday’s fatalities bring to at least 30 people killed since protests over poor public utilities began in the province.

Since July 9, Iraq’s Shia-majority central and southern provinces — especially Basra — have been rocked by protests to demand better public services, more job opportunities and an end to government corruption.