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Anti-government protest in Basra during Iraqi PM visit

Basra, IraqA few hundred demonstrators took to the streets in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Wednesday to protest the state of the economy, unemployment and the delayed payment of salaries of some 30,000 public servants from Basra, as Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrived in the city.

Kadhimi visit is part of his campaign against cross-border corruption and to chair his tenth cabinet meeting since he took office in May, the first one to be held outside of the capital Baghdad.

Protesters gathered near the gate of the Sheraton Hotel where the meeting was taking place. According to security sources, four protesters were injured as riot police used batons to prevent demonstrators from reaching the gate of the hotel.

Anti-government mass protests that erupted in October last year and led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi receded with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kadhimi's government now faces an economic crisis precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the prices of oil - Iraq's principal source of revenue - to plummet and thousands in Iraq to lose their livelihood.

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