Sulaimaniyah (Iraq), Dec 19 (AFP) Protesters in Iraqi Kurdistan torched a mayor’s office and stormed a ruling party building today as anger raged for a second day at the disastrous fallout from a September independence referendum. Also Read - Twin Suicide Attack Kills 23, Injures Over 50 in Central Baghdad Market
The vote delivered a resounding “yes” but drew sweeping reprisals from Baghdad which have dealt a heavy blow to the autonomous region’s economy. Also Read - Amid US Capitol Riot, Iraq Court Issues Arrest Warrant Against Trump For Killing of Iranian General Soleimani
In its second largest city Sulaimaniyah, security forces fired in the air to disperse demonstrators marching on the central Saray Square, an AFP correspondent reported. Also Read - International Flights: Air India Plans To Operate Special Flight From Basra To New Delhi On September 17 | Details Here
Roadblocks sprang up across the city on major roads and around the offices of the main political parties.
Sulaimaniyah is a bastion of opposition to former regional president Massoud Barzani, who organised the independence vote, but all five of the region’s main political parties saw their offices attacked today.
Protests were also held in the Sulaimaniyah province towns of Rania and Kifri, and in Halabja and Koysinjaq in neighbouring Arbil province.
In Koysinjaq, demonstrators set fire to the mayor’s office, while in Kifri hundreds stormed the offices of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party after pelting the building with stones, witnesses said.
“You’re incapable — incapable of defending the disputed areas and incapable of ruling the Kurdistan region,” one demonstrator shouted.
The disputed areas are a large swathe of historically Kurdish-majority territory outside the autonomous region that Kurdish leaders have long wanted to incorporate in it.
The Kurds took control of many of them during the fightback against the Islamic State group from 2014.
But after the independence referendum, federal forces retook nearly all of them, including the large city of Kirkuk and its nearby oilfields, which accounted for a major part of the autonomous government’s revenues.
Barzani announced he was stepping down in late October after the independence vote backfired.
Legislative and presidential elections in the region due on November 1 were postponed because of the turmoil.
Prime minister Nechirvan Barzani, the ex-president’s nephew, has pledged to hold the polls over the next three months. (AFP)
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.