Monday, 21 June 2010

Iraqis rebel over electricity failures

RIOT police in southern Iraq used water cannons to disperse protesters pelting them with stones Monday during a demonstration against power cuts as anger spread over the lack of basic utilities to fend off the occupied country's searing summer heat.

Associated Press reports: "The protest in the city of Nasiriyah came two days after a similar demonstration turned violent, with two people killed and two wounded after police opened fire in the southern oil hub of Basra.

"The unrest has raised concerns that growing public anger over the lack of basic services could jeopardize efforts to stabilize Iraq even as security improves.

"Many impoverished Iraqis in the south have been left without air conditioning or fans despite high humidity and summer temperatures that frequently rise above 110 degrees.

"Calling for the resignation of Iraq's electricity minister and other officials, protesters threw rocks and wooden bars and scuffled with security forces as they tried to break through a security barrier protecting the local government compound in Nasiriyah, according to witnesses and officials.

"Riot police carrying shields lined up behind waist-high red and yellow barriers and a row of barbed wire and sprayed the protesters with water cannons mounted on armored vehicles.

"At least 14 policemen and four protesters were wounded in the melee, police said.

"One officer said he was stunned when the protesters started throwing stones and hitting them with wooden bars."

It was later reported that the Electricity Minister had resigned.