Alwaght- At least five people were killed and more than 80 wounded on Tuesday in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region when demonstrators joined a second day of protests against years of austerity and unpaid public sector salaries.
The Region's Security Forces, Known as Asayesh, opened fire at a group of protesters in the town of Ranya, which is a part of the Sulaymaniyah province, on Tuesday after the latter stormed and set ablaze the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Kurdish-language NRT television network reported.
Kurdish medical sources, requesting anonymity, said five were shot and killed during the imbroglio. Another 20 people were wounded as well.
Elsewhere in the Kurdish town of Koya in Erbil province, 19 people were wounded during the protests against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Earlier on Tuesday, hundreds of protesters took to streets in at least six cities in Sulaymaniyah province.
Frustration over unpaid salaries to teachers and other civil servants, in addition to the deterioration of basic services and widespread corruption have been described as the main reasons behind mass protests in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
The Kurdistan region has been suffering from financial and economic hardships as a result of disagreement with the central government in Baghdad over distribution of crude oil revenues extracted from the northern oilfields.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged Tuesday the country’s northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan to respect current protests against the government, also revealing that next May’s parliament and provincial elections would be run simultaneously.
Abadi, speaking during his weekly press conference, urged Kurdistan’s government to “respect the peaceful protests” as the region closes a second day of violent protests decrying delayed employee payments and poor services.
Abadi warned his government would not “stay idle” if any citizen in the region is harmed.
Tensions have been running high between Baghdad and the KRG after the Kurds held a controversial referendum on the independence of Kurdistan on September 25.
The referendum on secession of the Kurdistan region was held despite strong opposition from Iraqi authorities, the international community, and Iraq's neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.