The local office of the Iraqi parliament was set on fire in the country's southern city of Basra on Friday. Security forces shot live rounds in the air to dissolve the crowds, according to security sources and witnesses for Reuters.

The demonstrators had assembled demanding the Iraqi parliament to dismiss the provincial government following the killing of two activists and wounding of others this week in three separate attacks carried out by unknown gunmen. As the protesters hurled petrol bombs, security forces opened fire.

Three Attacks in a Week

Protest
Representational Picture Wikimedia Commons

Activist Reham Yacoub, who had led several women's marches in the past, was killed on Wednesday and three others wounded when gunmen, brandishing assault rifles on the back of a motorcycle, opened fire on their car. It was the third incident this week in which gunmen targeted an anti-government political activist after one activist was killed and four others had their car fired upon in a separate incident.

The wave of violence began when activist Tahseen Osama was assassinated last week, prompting street demonstrations lasting three days in which security forces opened live fire on protesters who threw rocks and petrol bombs at the governor's house and blocked several main roads.

Killing of Activist Reignites Protests

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sacked the Basra police and national security chiefs on Monday and ordered an investigation into the violence. That calmed protesters until Yacoub's killing brought them back out on the streets.

Kadhimi took office in May, becoming the third Iraqi head of government in a chaotic 10-week period that followed months of deadly protests in the country, which has been exhausted by decades of sanctions, war, corruption and economic challenges.

(With inputs from agencies)