Iraqi female activist shot dead during protests in Basra

More and more people are being deliberately killed during the protests in Iraq. In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, an activist who was shot from a vehicle by armed men has been buried.

An activist critical of the government has been killed in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra. According to eyewitnesses, 49-year-old Janat Mahdi Hussein was shot dead from a vehicle by armed men late Tuesday evening, according to police sources. Five other people, including at least one other local activist, were injured. A source at the Forensic Institute in Basra, the centre of the country's oil industry, has confirmed that Hussein had suffered gunshot wounds. The activist, who is also said to have been a paramedic, was buried today.

Iraq has been shaken once again in recent days by mass protests and their violent repression. The protests against the political elite, mismanagement, corruption and high unemployment have been continuing since October, but subsided briefly at the beginning of the month after the targeted killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by a US drone attack at Baghdad international airport. Now the protests have flared up again.

At least five demonstrators were killed during protests in Iraq on Monday when security forces fired live ammunition into the crowd. In Baghdad, three people died from injuries sustained during the protests: two from bullet wounds, the third was hit by a tear gas cartridge which, according to eyewitnesses, was fired directly at his head. A fourth demonstrator was shot dead by police in the central Iraqi town of Karbala, south-west of Baghdad, and the fifth died in the north-eastern Iraqi town of Baquba.

Earlier, the protest movement had issued an ultimatum to the government on Sunday and announced that the riots would intensify if its demands were not met by Monday. Demonstrators are calling for the appointment of an independent person to form a new government of technocrats, as well as snap elections and trial of those responsible for the deaths during the demonstrations.

The discredited government has so far not met any of the demands of the protest movement. Although Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned two months ago, he is still in office provisionally because the Iraqi parliament cannot agree on a successor. His government takes a tough stance on the renewed protests. Adel Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the Iraqi armed forces, has already stated that the security forces are "absolutely justified" in suppressing the protests.

Hundreds of thousands of people have so far taken part in the wave of protests that broke out in Iraq on October 1. More than 500 people have lost their lives since then, and more than thirty people who were accused of leading roles in the uprisings have been assassinated. 56 protesters have disappeared and their fate is unknown.