Thousands Protest in Baghdad; Tear Gas Fired

One person was killed and at least 11 others injured in clashes with the security forces, who fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets, Sky News Arabia reported.

While there has been no official figure concerning the number of fatalities, the toll is believed to be between five and seven, with at least one security official among the dead.

Riot police fired tear gas when the crowd tried to move towards the zone, which also houses worldwide organisations and the homes of prominent politicians.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi promised an investigation into the use of force against protesters.

However, the protest was dispersed before the crowd reached the Green Zone.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or casualties.

The protesters, mainly supporters of prominent Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, want a commision supervising elections to be overhauled ahead of a provincial vote in September.

"Several Katyusha rockets fired from the Baladiyat and Palestine Street areas landed in the Green Zone", the Joint Operations Command said in a statement. Sadr's supporters have accused the body supervising national ballots of being affiliated to political parties, therefore making it anything but independent.

While at times the crowds advanced towards Baghdad's highly fortified Green Zone, by afternoon they began to disperse after a statement from Mr al Sadr's office called on his followers to refrain from trying to enter the compound.

"We will not give in to threats", said the head of the electoral commission, Serbat Mustafa, in an interview with a local Iraqi television channel.

  • Leroy Wright