Saturday, April 30, 2016

Baghdad's Green Zone evacuated as protesters break in

The escalation follows months of protests, sit-ins and demonstrations outside the compound
Baghdad's Green Zone evacuated as protesters break in


Baghdad's heavily fortified 'Green Zone' is being evacuated following a rampage by thousands of protesters on Saturday after lawmakers failed again to reach a quorum and approve new cabinet ministers.
Several foreign missions in Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" are evacuating their employees as thousands of protesters stormed the restricted area on Saturday.

The rioters also rampaged through several parts of the parliament building, chanting "peacefully, peacefully".

According to The New Arab correspondent in Baghdad, a curfew was announced in several areas of the Iraqi capital, with the military requesting reinforcement from the south.

Meanwhile, US helicopters were spotted flying on low altitude over the US embassy in the Green Zone as protesters approached the premises, the correspondent added.

Sources told The New Arab that Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi was preparing to give a speech addressing the Iraqi people later today.

The escalation comes after lawmakers again failed to reach a quorum and approve new cabinet ministers to replace the current government of party-affiliated ministers.
The unrest kicked off minutes after cleric Moqtada al-Sadr wrapped a news conference in the holy Shia city of Najaf during which he condemned the political deadlock, but did not order supporters to enter the Green Zone.
The powerful Shia cleric accused Iraqi politicians of blocking efforts to implement political reform aimed at combating corruption and waste.
This escalation marks the first time protesters have breached the Green Zone after months of protests, sit-ins and demonstrations outside the compound.
See in pictures: Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr protest in Iraq
Thousands of protesters broke into Baghdad's heavily
fortified 'Green Zone' [The New Arab]

"You are not staying here! This is your last day in the Green Zone," shouted one protester as thousands broke into the area in central Baghdad that houses parliament, the presidential palace, the prime minister's office as well as the US and several other embassies.

Protesters attached cables to the tops of heavy concrete blast walls that surround the Green Zone, pulling them down to create an opening, television footage showed.
They also pulled barbed wire across a road leading to one of the exits of the Green Zone, effectively preventing some scared lawmakers from fleeing the chaos.
Several vehicles the protesters believed belonged to lawmakers were attacked and damaged.
Iraq has been hit by weeks of political turmoil surrounding Abadi's efforts to replace the cabinet of party-affiliated ministers with a government of technocrats.
Increasingly tense protests and a series of failed reform measures have paralysed Iraq's government as the country struggles to fight the Islamic State group and respond to an economic crisis sparked in part by a plunge in global oil prices.

Agencies contributed to this report

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