Protests ensue after Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr says he is quitting politics
After Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his resignation from Iraqi politics, hundreds of his followers descended on the government palace and clashed with security forces and other Shiite groups.
Per reports from eyewitnesses, supporters of Sadr–who has announced his retirement from politics on prior occasions–charged the government headquarters in Baghdad's Green Zone and skirmished with supporters of rival Shiite groups in the streets outside the area. At least 15 individuals lost their lives, according to medical officials, who also said that dozens more were injured by gunfire, tear gas, and physical altercations with riot police. In response, Iraq’s military imposed a nationwide curfew of 7 PM and Cabinet sessions were suspended.
Yesterday’s protests follow a months-long deadlock that has blocked the formation of a new cabinet since Sadr’s party won the largest share of seats in October parliamentary elections, but not enough to secure a majority government.