By Idris Okuducu
At least five protesters were shot dead by security forces and more than 90 people injured on Tuesday during the protests in the city of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, according to officials.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Taha Mohammed, public health director in Sulaymaniyah’s town of Ranya, said another 70 people had been injured -- including 36 security personnel -- in clashes between protesters and security forces.
Since Monday, Sulaymaniyah has been the scene of large demonstrations by civil servants to protest public-sector salary delays and perceived government corruption.
Earlier Tuesday, protesters torched a number of public facilities in Sulaymaniyah, including the offices of some opposition groups.
Aydin Maruf, a lawmaker for the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF), told Anadolu Agency that demonstrators had set fire to the ITF’s office in the city’s Kifri district.
According to Maruf, protesters also torched the local headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, as well as the Koy Sanjaq prefecture building near Erbil, the municipal capital of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
Shorash Ismail, the police chief in Koy Sanjaq, told Anadolu Agency that at least 15 people had been injured -- two seriously -- in clashes between security forces and protesters in the prefecture.
Local authorities have reportedly stepped up security throughout the region with a view to preventing further escalations.
On Monday, thousands of local civil servants staged demonstrations in Sulaymaniyah -- which continued on Tuesday -- to demand overdue salaries and decry local government corruption.
Sulaymaniyah is considered a bastion of the Kurdish region’s leading opposition parties, including the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Gorran Movement.
In a related development Tuesday, the KRG issued a warrant for the arrest of Shaswar Abdelwahid Qadir, leader of the “New Generation” movement.
Earlier this year, the movement had spearheaded a popular campaign against the KRG’s illegitimate Sept. 25 referendum on regional independence.
Qadir has been accused by KRG authorities of inciting demonstrators to attack public facilities “with a view to overthrowing the government”.