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Hundreds protest bad basic services in Iraq

By Mohammed Tawfeeq , CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • About 200 people protest bad basic services, including power outages
  • Nine police officers and six others are injured
  • Iraq's minister of electricity resigned in June amid similar protests

Nasiriya, Iraq -- At least 15 people, including nine police officers, were wounded Saturday night when hundreds of people protested in Nasiriya over power outages and bad basic services, city police officials told CNN.

Some of the roughly 200 protesters hurled stones at a local government building in the city, about 360 kilometers (225 miles) south of Baghdad, and some beat police officers with sticks, officials said.

Iraqi security forces in the city fired water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested numerous protesters.

In June, Iraq's minister of electricity resigned following protests in southern Iraq over a lack of electricity. Karim Waheed read his resignation letter on state television.

The resignation followed protests in the city of Basra that left one Iraqi dead and two others injured.

Later in June, hundreds of Nasiriya city residents demonstrated in front of the Nasiriya provincial council.

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Maj. Gen. Sabah Al-Fatlawi, chief of Nasiriya police, said at the time that at least 16 security force members were wounded when the demonstrators threw stones and tried to enter the provincial council.

Before resigning, Waheed said that electricity output had increased since he took over the ministry in 2006. He blamed the continuous shortages on a number of factors, including an increase in the demand for electricity.

"All these things (solutions) require patience from Iraqis, but Iraqis have been very patient and this issue has been seriously politicized with the latest events," Waheed said. "The ministry of electricity is not a part of this, it is an independent ministry with a professional and independent minister, and all this contributed to increased pressure on the ministry. Everyone knows that I submitted my letter of resignation to the prime minister today to take pressure off the ministry."

CNN's Yousif Bassil contributed to this report.

 
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