Three Killed in Clashes in Iraq After Cleric's Followers Storm Protest Camp

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Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr hold a picture of him during a rally in support of al-Sadr in Baghdad, Iraq November 27, 2020.
Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr hold a picture of him during a rally in support of al-Sadr in Baghdad, Iraq November 27, 2020. Credit: KHALID AL-MOUSILY/ REUTERS

Supporters of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed an anti-government protest camp in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya on Friday, and at least three people were killed and dozens wounded in the clashes, a Reuters witness and a medical source said.

Followers of Sadr carrying pictures of the cleric marched to the central al-Haboubi square, where anti-government protesters have held a sit-in since 2019, after Friday prayers.

They fired gunshots and threw petrol bombs at the protesters' tents, leading the protesters to fight back, the Reuters witness said.

A hospital source said the protesters died from bullet wounds. The clashes are still going on.

Earlier on Friday, thousands of Sadrists gathered in Tahrir Square in Baghdad and in other southern provinces to show their support for the influential cleric ahead of an upcoming election.

Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in Iraq's parliament, said he expects his movement to win a majority of seats in the parliamentary election scheduled for June next year.

Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States, also opposes Iranian influence in Iraq. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who took office in May after his predecessor was driven out by widespread unrest, has pledged to hold the election to meet a demand of many pro-democracy activists.

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