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Three reported dead in Iraqi protests

Government offices are attacked in protests in the city of Kut, as demonstrations inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia continue.

February 17, 2011|By Raheem Salman, Los Angeles Times
  • Riot policemen are deployed outside the provincial council building in Kut, capital of Wasit province. The governor's office and residence were also attacked.
Riot policemen are deployed outside the provincial council building in… (Jaafer Abed, Reuters )

Reporting from Baghdad — Three people were reported killed and dozens wounded during a demonstration in the southeastern city of Kut after protesters set fire to several government buildings as the country was roiled by demonstrations for the second time in three days.

The protest in Kut, capital of Wasit province, was the latest demonstration in Iraq inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that ousted longtime Arab heads of state.

Iraqis, fed up of a lack of basic services and angry with their politicians, attacked the governor's office, his residence and the provincial council building, said Kadhim Saiyadi, a Kut lawmaker with Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr's movement.

Saiyadi said the protesters had divided into three groups and attacked the three sites.

But he blamed the arson on infiltrators from the government, which wants to prevent social unrest from erupting into a popular uprising in Iraq, even as people are deeply frustrated with their government's failure to improve their lives. "I think the infiltrators wanted to destroy the demonstrations inside Iraq to have a pretext not to permit any demonstrations in future," he said.

The U.S.-funded Alhurra satellite news channel confirmed that the buildings had been set ablaze and reported that some guards opened fire on the protesters.

The demonstrations that have rippled across the nation in the last two weeks show the growing impatience people have for their political leaders.

Salman is a Times staff writer.

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