Tens dead amid clashes in Iraq after influential cleric’s retirement
Baghdad, Aug 30 (EFE).- At least 22 people were killed as clashes continued in Baghdad a day after influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced that he was retiring from Iraqi politics, a security source said Tuesday.
More than 250 people were also wounded by gunshots and “violent actions,” according to the source, who spoke to EFE on condition of anonymity.
Violence broke out in the Iraqi capital and other parts of the country Monday after thousands of al-Sadr’s loyalists stormed the presidential and government palaces in Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, which houses government institutions and foreign missions.
Shortly after al-Sadr’s announcement, Iraqi authorities declared a curfew in Baghdad later extended to the rest of the country, but thousands of people still took to the streets.
Iraq has been gripped by more than 10 months of political stalemate and the inability of parliament to form a new government or choose a president.
Al-Sadr’s bloc secured 73 seats in the 329-strong parliament in elections held in October.
But that was well short of a majority and gridlock ensued, with the Sadr supporters at loggerheads not only with Kurdish parties but also other Shiite groupings with close ties to Iran.
Amid the deadlock, all of the Sadr’s lawmakers resigned in June and since then the cleric has mobilized his supporters in the streets.
The leader enjoys strong support from the majority of the Shiite population in Iraq and was one of the main figures in the fight against the 2003 United States invasion. EFE