Hundreds of protesters inspired by unrest around the Arab world took to the streets of the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya on Sunday and at least 48 people were injured.

A police official said security forces fired in the air when demonstrators chanting against corruption tried to approach the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, where clashes on Thursday killed two people and wounded dozens.

“Hospitals in Sulaimaniya received 48 wounded people including 19 police and security forces,” said a health official who asked not to be named. “There are 11 people wounded by gunshots.”

Gunmen raided and set fire to a television station in the city, pictured, shutting down broadcasts of the protests, station and government officials said.The protesters are seeking better public services, the ouster of local officials and other demands. Similar rallies took place in Falluja and other locations.

In Baghdad, the cabinet decided to have ministers visit demonstrators to soothe anger over corruption, shortages of food and electricity and other issues behind a series of protests that have triggered skirmishes with security forces.

Unlike their regional counterparts, Iraqi protesters generally have not been calling for the removal of their elected government, installed just two months ago after months of tense negotiations between political factions. Dictator Saddam Hussein was swept away by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The raid on NRT satellite channel in Sulaimaniya was carried out by 50 masked gunmen wearing security force uniforms who sprayed the station with gunfire, smashed equipment, wounded a guard and lit fires, Twana Othman, the station’s manager, said.NRT had aired coverage of violent protests in Sulaimaniya last week.

Bahrouz Mohammed, the local governor, condemned the attack and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice.“Those saboteurs who attacked the TV station are trying undermine stability in Sulaimaniya,” he said in a statement.


In the western city of Falluja, about 300 protesters demanded the firing of the governor and provincial council members in Anbar province. Dozens of people rallied for jobs in the southern province of Nassiriya, Abdul Hadi Mohan, deputy head of the provincial council, said.The cabinet decision to reach out to protesters underscored politicians’ concerns over growing unrest.

“The general secretary of the council of ministers has called for immediate action to improve the food ration card system and to work on reforming the social benefits system,” said a statement issued by the cabinet’s media office.“The finance minister has been ordered to request parliament to start launching job opportunities to reduce unemployment.”

In recent days Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has moved to soothe anger by cutting his pay, reducing electricity bills, buying more sugar for the national food ration programme and diverting money from fighter jets to food.

By Shamal Aqrawi,



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