IRAQ DECLARES CURFEW IN BAGHDAD AS PROTESTS PERSIST




İrem UZUN -TDO- Iraq declared a curfew in Baghdad on Monday as two people were killed and 112 injured in the fourth day of anti-government protests, and the coalition government's most powerful erstwhile supporter called for early elections.Baghdad's top military commander imposed the curfew from midnight (2100 GMT) until 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) effective "until further notice," state television said, but protesters in the capital's central Tahrir Square remained defiant.

The unrest, driven by discontent over economic hardship and deep-seated corruption, has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq, which from 2003 to 2017 endured a foreign occupation, civil war and an Islamic State insurgency.Counting Monday's deaths, which security and medical sources said resulted from security forces launching tear gas canisters directly at the heads of protesters, some 233 people have been killed overall in the disturbances this month.Security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and joined thousands in Baghdad protesting against his government.

Shia religious leader Moqtada al-Sadr on Monday called on Abdul Mahdi to announce early parliamentary elections overseen by the United Nations and without the participation of existing political parties.Sadr's bloc, which came first in a 2018 election and helped bring the prime minister's fragile coalition government to power, said on Saturday it was going into opposition until the demands of protesters were met.