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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Tear Gas Fired As Iraqis Storm Parliament

Thousands of angry protesters breach Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses most of the embassies in the Iraqi city.
Security forces in Baghdad fired tear gas and bullets into the air to try to stop anti-government demonstrators entering the heavily-fortified Green Zone.
It comes after thousands of people, most of them supporters of Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada al Sadr, breached the area, which houses most of the Iraqi capital's embassies, and stormed the parliament building.
The influential Iraqi has accused the country's politicians of blocking political reforms aimed at combating corruption and waste.
His supporters climbed over and pulled down some of the Green Zone's blast walls and made their way into parliament in a breach that marked a major escalation in Iraq's political crisis.
People danced, waved Iraqi flags, took pictures of themselves inside the main chamber and chanted pro-Sadr slogans. Some appeared to be breaking furniture.
Several hours later, there were reports that demonstrators left parliament and began a sit-in at Ihtifalat Square inside the Green Zone.
Protesters earlier pulled barbed wire across a road leading to one of the Green Zone exits, in a bid to stop some MPs from fleeing the chaos.
They also attacked and damaged several vehicles they believed belonged to the politicians.
There have been months of anti-government protests, sit-ins and demonstrations by al Sadr's supporters and such a breach is unprecedented.
The United Nations mission to Iraq said it was "gravely concerned" by the breach.
A UN spokesman and Western diplomats based inside the Green Zone said their compounds were locked down, and a US embassy spokesman denied reports of evacuation.
SWAT troops and presidential guard forces were reportedly trying to keep the protesters from crossing a bridge close to the US embassy compound.
Sources in al Sadr's office told Reuters that several Kurdish deputies who had been holed up inside parliament were evacuated by a Sadrist MP in his motorcade.
A Kurdish peshmerga guard at a checkpoint said the protesters surged in after security forces pulled back from an external checkpoint.
Al Sadr's fighters once controlled large parts of Baghdad and helped defend the capital from Islamic State in 2014.

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