UPDATES TO ADD BACKGROUND, STATEMENT DECLARING CURFEW
By Haydar Hadi
BAGHDAD (AA) – Thousands of supporters of firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone for the second time in a month, triggering tumult between security forces and protesters that injured scores.
The heavily fortified Green Zone houses a number of vital government institutions, including the Prime Minister’s Office and Parliament, as well as foreign diplomatic missions.
Security forces used tear gas and aerial gunshots to disperse the protesters, who entered the zone after demonstrations held in Tahrir Square to demand government reform.
The protesters first entered the Green Zone on April 30.
Interior Ministry sources told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions of speaking to the media that 21 people were injured in brawls between protesters and security forces.
Following the Green Zone breach, a curfew was declared in Baghdad, Baghdad Operations Command said in a statement.
Iraq has been embroiled in a deepening political crisis since March, when Sadr loyalists began staging protests in the capital with a view to pressing Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to appoint a government of technocrats untainted by corruption or sectarian affiliations.
*Anadolu Agency correspondents Servet Gunerigok and Fatjon Prroni contributed to this report from Ankara.