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Kurdish protest turns violent in northern Iraq

From Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
  • At least 50 people, mostly police, were injured
  • Security forces blame angry protesters for the clashes
  • Kurdish security forces have been blamed in past incidents

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- A peaceful protest turned violent in northern Iraq on Friday when hundreds of Kurdish protesters clashed with riot police, security officials there said.

Security officials said angry protesters stormed shops in central Sulaimaniya, threw stones at Kurdish riot police and wielded sticks when police pushed back. At least 50 people were wounded, including 37 members of the riot police, police and health officials in Sulaimaniya said.

Nearly 1,500 Kurdish demonstrators had gathered in Sulaimaniya's central square earlier in the morning to continue their demands for political reforms and to protest corruption, a lack of basic services and unemployment, security officials said.

The unrest in the Kurdish city, starting in February, has killed seven people and injured more than 200, health officials said.

Last month, masked attackers burned tents of protesters overnight in the Bardagi-Sara central square, where hundreds of demonstrators gathered later that day for another protest against Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan regional government, witnesses told CNN at the time.

Some protesters blamed the attack on Kurdish security forces, who denied any involvement.