Rockets fired at Basra airport, protest death toll climbs

Rockets fired at Basra airport, protest death toll climbs
2 min read
08 September, 2018
An airport official said it was not clear who was behind the attack, the latest bout of unrest that has gripped the southern Iraqi city.
Iraqi protesters gather outside burnt-down local government headquarters in Basra [Getty]
Three Katyusha rockets were fired at Iraq's Basra airport, the latest sign of unrest in the southern city that has seen since Tuesday thousands of demonstrators angered over poor public services take to the streets.

An airport official told AP it was not clear who was behind the Saturday morning attack, which followed a chaotic night that saw hundreds of protesters storm and set fire to the Iranian consulate and the offices of political parties and militias seen as close to Tehran. 

No casualties have been reported from the rocket fire that landed inside the perimeter of the airport, which is located near the US consulate.

The protests in Basra are the most serious to shake Iraq's oil-rich southern Shia heartland in years. Protesters are calling for an end to endemic corruption and soaring joblessness. 

At least 12 people have been killed and 50 injured - 48 civilians and two policemen - since the protests began, which saw security forces fire live ammunition on demonstrators. 

Public anger in Basra flared after 30,000 people were hospitalised for drinking polluted water. 

Iraq's parliament is expected to hold an emergency session later on Saturday to discuss the the crisis in public services that stoked the unrest. 

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has scrambled to defuse the anger and authorities have pledged a multi-billion dollar emergency plan to revive infrastructure and services in the southern city.  

Abadi and key ministers are to attend Saturday's parliament session, which was demanded by populist Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr, whose political bloc won the largest number of seats in the country's May elections although a new government has yet to be formed.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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