Iraqi parliament sounds alarm after deadly blast near protester hub

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The Iraqi parliament on Saturday warned of further acts aimed at “destabilising” the country hours after an explosion near the epicentre of ongoing anti-government protests in the capital Baghdad.

An explosive device placed under a car went off late Friday near Tahrir Square in central Baghdad.

Security forces said the blast left one person dead and 16 others injured, while witnesses put the death toll at four.

“This blast marks a dangerous development in securing demonstrators’ safety.

“It proves there is a side that is seeking to destabilise security and spread chaos,” the parliament’s Human Rights Committee said without elaborating, according to Iraq’s official news agency INA.

Street protests started in Iraq in early October, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament and an overhaul of the country’s political system that has been in place since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country.

At least 319 protesters and security personnel have since died in the demonstrations, mainly in the capital Baghdad and the oil-rich south, according to official figures.

Several rights groups have accused the Iraqi security forces of using excessive violence.

On Saturday, the parliament’s Human Rights Committee called on security forces and protesters to help limit any violence by what it called the “third side” – those suspected of attacking the protesters.


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