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Iraq: Protesters torch government buildings in Basra

Culled from Aljazeera

At least two people have died in Iraq's oil-rich province of Basra as protesters targeted and set fire to government and political party buildings in a fourth consecutive night of violent unrest.

Protesters angry over poor public services clashed with security forces in the southern city of Basra on Thursday and hurled Molotov cocktails at the regional government headquarters there.

Iraq's Human Rights Commission said two protesters died during the violence, taking the death toll to 11 since the weeks-long protest escalated on September 3.

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One protester died on Thursday night from burns sustained during the torching of the government headquarters, health and security sources said.

Crowds attacked the offices of the state-run Iraqiya TV and set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Dawa Party, the Supreme Islamic Council and the Badr Organisation, whose leaders are all vying to form Iraq's ruling coalition.

Protesters also torched the offices of a powerful Shia armed group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and those of the Hikma Movement, and stormed the house of the acting head of the provincial council.

Thousands of people took part in the protest.

The violence has prompted the temporary head of Iraq's parliament to call an emergency session on Saturday.

Legislators would "discuss the problems, the solutions and the latest situation" in Basra, a statement said on Friday.

The southern city has been the epicentre of protests that have rocked Iraq since July, with anger fuelled by pollution of the water supply that left 30,000 people in hospital.

Rights activists have accused security forces of opening fire on the demonstrators, while the government has blamed provocateurs in the crowds and say the troops were ordered not to use live rounds.

"The people protest and the government doesn't care, treats them as vandals," said Ali Saad, a 25-year-old at the rally Thursday in Basra.

"Nobody [here] is a vandal: the people are fed up, so yes they throw stones and burn tyres because nobody cares," he told the AFP news agency near the building littered with debris.

Ahmed Kazem, who was also at the protest, urged leaders to respond to the demands of the demonstrators "so that the situation doesn't degenerate".

The 42-year-old said their demands included "public services, water, electricity and jobs"

My view: It's sad that ordinary people of Iraq are suffering while heartless politicians and their family are living lavishly, just like African working politicians. It's corruption, left, right and center.

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