Clashes in Iraq’s Najaf kill 7 after cleric’s followers storm protest camp

Clashes in Iraq’s Najaf kill 7 after cleric’s followers storm protest camp
Iraqi anti-government protesters cut off a road with burning tyres in the central holy shrine city of Najaf, during a demonstration against followers of influential cleric Moqtada Sadr, on February 5, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 05 February 2020

Clashes in Iraq’s Najaf kill 7 after cleric’s followers storm protest camp

Clashes in Iraq’s Najaf kill 7 after cleric’s followers storm protest camp
  • The clashes erupted after supporters of populist cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr stormed an anti-government protest camp
  • At least 20 more were wounded in the violence

BAGHDAD: At least seven people were killed in clashes in Iraq's southern city of Najaf on Wednesday after supporters of populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed an anti-government protest camp, medical and security sources said.
The medical sources said at least 20 more were wounded in the violence but did not provide further details.
The security sources said that supporters of Sadr, known as blue hats for the blue caps they often wear, had tried to clear the area of anti-government protesters, who in turn tried to stop them.
Fights broke out between both groups, the blue hats threw petrol bombs at protester tents and live gunfire rang out shortly afterwards, wounding and killing six people, they said.
Sadr has at different times both supported and abandoned Iraqi protesters who demand a removal of the entire ruling elite.
He urged followers last week to help authorities bring "day to day life" back to Iraq's streets by clearing roads blocked by sit-ins and ensuring businesses and schools can reopen after months of protests in which nearly 500 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces.
Sadr has also urged the blue hats to allow protests to continue.