Iraqi officials dismissed reports of fatalities during protests in Karbala

Iraqi officials have dismissed reports of fatalities during Monday’s anti-government protests in the holy city of Karbala, saying certain media outlets have been fabricating news.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Karbala Governor Nassif al-Khattabi said viral footage of security forces shooting at protesters were fake and meant to “incite the street” in the city.

He said that a curfew had been enforced in Karbala upon a request by protesters in a bid to protect their lives.

No one was killed, but some sustained injuries, most of them security forces, Khattabi added.

Khattabi further told Iran’s Al-Alam news network that life has now returned to normal in Karbala.

He added that the protests will not hinder the pilgrims from visiting the holy shrines in the Shia city.

Additionally, Karbala’s police chief confirmed that no protester had been killed, noting that there was only a premeditated murder that happened some two kilometers away from the protest zone.

He said some elements had infiltrated into the protests to disrupt peace and incite violence.

Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters quoted medical and security sources as saying that Iraqi security forces had killed at least 14 people and wounded 865 others in Karbala.

At the start of October, street protests erupted in several Iraqi cities over unemployment and poor public services. The demonstrations resumed on Friday after a pause of about two weeks.

The first round of the protests left over 150 people dead in Iraq, according to the Interior Ministry.

The demonstrators want the government to take meaningful action aimed at ending the country’s economic woes and fighting corruption in state institutions.

As part of efforts to satisfy the protesters’ demands, Iraq’s parliament on Monday passed a set of measures, including reduced salaries for officials, the formation of a committee tasked with drafting constitutional amendments within four months, and the dissolution of all provincial and local councils outside the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.

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