Calm has prevailed in the Iraqi capital following a bloody night when at least 19 people were killed as security forces opened fire to break up anti-government protests. Students made it to schools at the start of the working week, early on October 6, and government employees returned to work. But the capital's streets were mostly quiet and traffic remained thin. Burnt tires and debris littered thoroughfares while security remained heavily deployed in many neighborhoods. Armoured vehicles blocked access to Tahrir square from as far as four kilometres (2.5 miles). Protesters have been trying to converge on the central square. At least 84 protesters were killed, most of them in Baghdad, since Tuesday when demonstrators initiated rallies to demand jobs, improvements to services and an end to corruption in the oil-rich nation.
The protests, concentrated in Baghdad and in predominantly Shiite areas of southern Iraq are mostly spontaneous and without political leadership, staged by disenchanted youth demanding jobs, improved services such as electricity and water, and an end to Iraq’s endemic corruption. They have organized the protests on social media and have gradually escalated their demands and now want the government to resign. No political party has so far joined the campaign. The demonstrations and the unrest are the most serious challenge to Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s year-old government, which has been caught in the middle of U.S.-Iran tensions in the Middle East. Iraq is allied with both countries and hosts thousands of U.S. troops, as well as powerful paramilitary forces allied with Iran.
Groups of protestors rallied through the streets with some of them demanding to oust the government. Thick black smoke covered the city as demonstrators set fire to tires and garbage containers. During the night, protestors blocked the road leading to Baghdad airport. The news rapidly spread to at least seven other provinces in the country with an estimated 3,000 protestors taking to the streets in the southern city of Basra. Protests and clashes were also reported in Najaf, Nasiriyah, Waset, Diwaniyah, and in other places. It was the worst violence between the protestors and security forces in Iraq which signalled a new round of political instability.