Iraq's PM urges calm amid deadly violent protests

The demonstration turned violent in Baghdad as clashes erupted with the police.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Friday urged protesters to calm after three days of violent protests over unemployment, government corruption and lack of basic services.

In his televised speech in the early hours of the day, Abdul Mahdi said that "the escalation in the demonstration is leading to loss of life, and we regret that some have succeeded in taking the protests off their peaceful path."

"Your demands for reforms and the fight against corruption have reached us," Abdul Mahdi said. "We will respond to every legitimate request."

He vowed that his government would not make "empty promises."

The prime minister also promised stipends to needy families and urged protesters to abide by the law as protests escalate in the capital Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities.

"We have to return life to normal in all provinces and respect the law," he said, adding that the security authorities have made a difficult choice, including a temporary curfew.

The demonstration turned violent in Baghdad as clashes erupted with the police.

The protests also spread to other Iraqi provinces when hundreds of protesters attacked and burned several provincial government buildings and offices of leading political parties.

On Thursday, sporadic protests continued during the day despite the curfew that was imposed in Baghdad starting from 5:00 a.m. local time (0200 GMT) Thursday morning.

The Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari said in a statement on Wednesday that he has decided to raise the state of alert for the Iraqi armed forces "to preserve state sovereignty and protect all foreign embassies and diplomatic missions operating in Iraq."

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