Skip to main content

Five killed as unrest erupts around Iraq

From Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
Kurdish protesters demonstrate against the government in the town of Sulaimaniyah in northern Iraq on February 23, 2011.
Kurdish protesters demonstrate against the government in the town of Sulaimaniyah in northern Iraq on February 23, 2011.
  • Police say two people were killed in central Mosul
  • In Hawijah, three protesters are killed during clashes, according to police
  • Protesters gather outside government buildings across the country
  • Authorities announce a ban on vehicle traffic in some cities
  • Iraq

Baghdad (CNN) -- Demonstrators clashed with security forces around Iraq on Friday in confrontations that killed at least five people and wounded many others.

Protesters attacked and burned government offices in several cities. The clashes were particularly intense in Mosul and Hawijah, in northern Iraq.

In Mosul, two people were killed and 20 people were wounded Friday morning when Iraqi security forces opened fire on demonstrators who tried to force their way into a provincial council building in central Mosul, police said. Demonstrators destroyed equipment and burned furniture inside, police said.

In the town of Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, three protesters were killed and 12 others were wounded when Iraqi security forces opened fire on protesters after hundreds threw stones at police and troops, Iraqi Army Capt. Mohammed al-Angood said. Demonstrators later set fire to a building housing the city council's offices, police said.

Unrest also flared in Baghdad, Falluja, Ramadi and in two towns in the province of Salaheddin.

Helicopters hovered and security forces stepped up their presence in Baghdad as more than 2,000 demonstrators gathered in the city's Tahrir Square to protest corruption and poor government services.

Iraqi security forces opened fire to disperse crowds after protesters tried to enter the provincial council building in Anbar province. Security forces also opened fire to disperse crowds in two small towns in Salaheddin province, wounding eight protesters, police said.

In Basra, in southern Iraq, the governor submitted his resignation just a few hours after hundreds gathered outside his office demanding that he step down. In Falluja, west of the country's capital, hundreds demonstrated outside a city council building.

On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged citizens not to participate in Friday's planned massive protests, claiming former members of Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorists were plotting to take advantage of the demonstrations to create chaos in the country.

Iraq's top Shiite religious leaders, including clerics Ali al-Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr, also urged that the Friday demonstrations be delayed.

Authorities also announced a ban on all vehicle traffic -- except for Iraqi security forces vehicles -- in the cities of Baghdad, Mosul and Samarra and Tikrit, beginning at 12 a.m. Friday.

Iraqi security forces have been on full alert since Monday and more Iraqi troops have been deployed to the streets of Baghdad ahead of the demonstrations on Friday, officials with Iraqi security forces tell CNN on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

Since early February, thousands of protesters have participated in a series of demonstrations across the country, apparently inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Their protests are against corruption, restrictions on freedom of expression, unemployment and poor government services.

A police officer was killed and three others wounded when hundreds of demonstrators protested in the Iraqi town of Halabja over lack of basic services, corruption and unemployment, the town's mayor said Thursday.

On Tuesday, hundreds protesting for the same reasons started throwing stones at Iraqi police, Mayor Goran Adham said, wounding 43 police officers in the town, which is located about 84 kilometers (52 miles) southeast of Sulaimaniya in Iraq's Kurdish region.

The Iraqi government was formed in December, nine months after an inconclusive national election. This is the second elected government in the nearly eight years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Hussein.

Part of complete coverage on
'Sons of Mubarak' in plea for respect
Pro-Mubarak supporters believe Egypt's former president is innocent of charges of corruption and killing protesters.
Timeline of the conflict in Libya
Fighting in Libya started with anti-government demonstrations in February and escalated into a nationwide civil war.
Who are these rebels?
After months of seeming stalemate, Libyan rebels declared they were moving in on Tripoli. But who are they?
Why NATO's Libya mission has shifted
Six months and more than 17,000 air sorties after it began, NATO's Operation Unified Protector in the skies over Libya grinds on.
Interactive map: Arab unrest
Click on countries in CNN's interactive map to see the roots of their unrest and where things stand today.
Send your videos, stories
Are you in the Middle East or North Africa? Send iReport your images. Don't do anything that could put you at risk.
Libya through Gadhafi's keyhole
Behind the official smiles for the cameras some people in Libya's capital are waiting for the rebels, reports CNN's Ivan Watson.
How Arab youth found its voice
Tunisia's Mohamed Bouazizi not only ignited a series of revolts but heralded the first appearance of Arab youth on the stage of modern history.