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The New Arab Staff

Iraqi female activist and fitness instructor shot dead in Basra

Activist Reham Yacoub was killed and three others were wounded in the shooting [Twitter]

Date of publication: 20 August, 2020

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Prominent female activist Reham Yacoub was gunned down by unidentified militants.
A prominent female activist and fitness instructor was shot dead in Iraq on Wednesday by unidentified gunmen.

Reham Yacoub, who was also a well-known fitness instructor, was killed in the southern Iraqi city of Basra by gunmen carrying assault rifles on the back of a motorcycle, Reuters reported.

Three others were wounded in Wednesday's incident. It is considered to be the third instance of violence against anti-government activists this week. 

An activist was killed on Friday and four others were fired upon in a separate incident, Reuters reported.

Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said on Twitter on Wednesday that he had been informed about the "recent assasinations".

"Colluding with the killers or submitting to their threats is unacceptable, and we will do whatever is takes for the Ministry of Interior and security agencies to be able to protect society from the threats of outlaws," he said.

Reham Yacoub was a leader of Iraq's anti-government protest movement which broke out in October last year.

Social media users paid tribute to her life and activism on Twitter following her death. 

"Reham Yacoub was more than just a fitness instructor & an activist. Hear her roar," one social media wrote. 

The hashtag "Iran is assassinating Iraqi activists" was trending on the platform, according to Twitter users. 

The recent wave of shootings began on Friday when Tahsin Osamah Al-Shahmani was shot dead in the Jeneina area of Basra on Friday evening by gunmen believed to be linked to pro-Iran militias.

Read more: Angry protests in Basra after activist killed by suspected Iran-linked militiamen

Over 20 bullets were fired at him, according to local reports.

Dozens of protesters took to the streets afterwards, attempting to reach Basra's police headquarters and calling for the identity of the killers to be revealed.

Security forces deployed to the vicinity of the headquarters to prevent it being stormed by the protesters.

Widespread demonstrations erupted in Baghdad and Iraq's Shia-majority south last year, railing against a government seen as corrupt, inept and beholden to Iran.

Protestors took to the streets in large numbers in response to high rates of poverty, corruption and unemployment and government neglect of essential services.

The protests forced the government of former Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi to resign and Iraq's new prime minister Al-Kadhimi, took over in April after a long period of political deadlock.

Hundreds of protesters were killed by security forces and pro-Iran militias have also targeted anti-government activists for assassination, often with weapons fitted with silencers.

Dozens more were kidnapped, some of whom were later released near their homes. The whereabouts of others remain unknown.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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