Title: Deadly Clashes Erupt in Kirkuk as Protests Against Returning Headquarters Turn Violent
Three protesters were killed and 14 injured during violent clashes in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The unrest erupted from tensions over a building in Kirkuk that previously served as the headquarters for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The Iraqi army currently uses the building as a base but plans to return it to the KDP as a gesture of goodwill.
The clashes were primarily between ethnic groups, with Arab and Turkmen opponents setting up a protest camp outside the disputed building last week. The situation escalated when a group of Kurdish protesters approached the camp, leading to the outbreak of violence, according to the police.
Initially, one protester lost their life during the clashes. However, two additional Kurdish protesters died in the hospital from bullet wounds, raising the death toll to three. An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths and who opened fire.
The violence involved both protest groups, with reports of stones being thrown and metal bars used as weapons. Concerned about further escalation, Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani ordered a curfew in Kirkuk to prevent more violence. He called for unity and cooperation among political parties, social organizations, and community leaders to restore peace in the city.
The city of Kirkuk has been a major source of conflict between the Kurdish autonomous region and Iraq’s central government since the defeat of the Islamic State in 2017. Initially, Kurdish forces controlled the city but were later expelled by the Iraqi army. Since assuming office, Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani has been striving to mend relations with the KDP.
However, Arab residents and minority groups have strongly protested the KDP’s return, citing the aggrieved experiences they endured under Kurdish rule in the past. The opposition highlights past grievances, sparking tensions between different ethnic factions.
The government’s efforts to reconcile and maintain peace in Kirkuk are now facing steep challenges. It remains to be seen how the investigation into the violent clashes will unfold and what steps will be taken to bridge the divide between the different ethnic groups in the city.
As tensions continue to simmer, keeping the situation under control and preventing further bloodshed is a pressing concern for Iraqi authorities.
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