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At least 50 wounded in Kurdish protest in Iraq

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
  • Hundreds of Kurds turn out to demand reform in Sulaimaniya
  • Protesters fight riot police, set tires on fire
  • Sulaymaniyah
  • Baghdad
  • Iraq
  • Kurdish Politics

(CNN) -- Another peaceful protest turned violent in northern Iraq on Sunday when hundreds of Kurdish protesters clashed with riot police, security officials in Sulaimaniya told CNN.

Angry protesters threw stones at Kurdish riot police and wielded sticks when police pushed back, security officials said. At least 50 people were wounded; 42 protesters and eight riot police, most of whom had minor injuries and were treated and released, police and health officials in Sulaimaniya told CNN.

Nearly 400 Kurdish demonstrators had gathered in Sulaimaniya's central square on Sunday afternoon to continue their demands for political reforms and to protest corruption, a lack of basic services and unemployment.

A few hours later, the peaceful protest turned violent when dozens of angry protesters blocked streets in central Sulaimaniya and set tires on fire, security officials in Sulaimaniya told CNN. Riot police used tear gas and some used live bullets to disperse crowd.

Health officials told CNN that seven protesters were hit in the legs by gunshots but all are in stable condition.

The unrest in the Kurdish city, starting since February 17, has killed at least seven people and injured more than 250 health officials said.

Sulaimaniya, a city in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, is about 280 kilometers (174 miles) northeast of Baghdad. The three cities of the Kurdish region are Irbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniya.

The Kurdistan regional government, headed by Massoud Barzani , is in Irbil province.

Journalist Shirko Abdullah in Sulaimaniya contributed to this report.