Deadly Demonstrations Rock Basra as Protesters Decry Government Failures (in Photos)

Protests swelled in Iraq's second-largest city this week as residents experienced power shortages and went without clean water.
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Massive protests in Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, continued into a fifth day on Friday as Iraqi protesters set fire to the city's Iranian consulate.

Since Monday, protesters in the southern Iraqi city of over 2.5 million have taken to the streets to protest the collapse of social services. Salt water has contaminated the city's water system, and thousands have been hospitalized for health complications stemming from the unclean water. As the summer heat vaults over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, large-scale power cuts are also fueling the anger that has driven the protests.

Earlier in the week, the demonstrations quickly turned deadly as Iraqi security forces fired on the crowds with live ammunition. As of Friday, the BBC reported that at least 10 people had been killed.

Basra lies next to one of Iraq's major ports and the majority of the country's proven oil wells. Once a jewel of the region, the city has weathered decades of decline after suffering heavy shelling during the Iran-Iraq war and then long-lasting and economically destabilizing United States sanctions during the Saddam Hussein era.

Today in Basra, unemployment is widespread, corruption is rampant, and social infrastructure is decrepit as the country's government funnels resources toward the fight against ISIS.

On Friday evening, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced his intention to hasten the introduction of increased government funds to Basra, but protests are likely to continue.

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Iraqi protesters watch an official building go up in flames as they demonstrate against the government in Basra on September 6th, 2018. A curfew was imposed in the city that same day.

Iraqi protesters watch an official building go up in flames as they demonstrate against the government in Basra on September 6th, 2018. A curfew was imposed in the city that same day.

A picture shows the damaged house of Basra's governor in the aftermath of a violent protests on September 7th, 2018.

A picture shows the damaged house of Basra's governor in the aftermath of a violent protests on September 7th, 2018.

Iraqi protesters carry the coffin of a man on September 4th, 2018. Family and human rights activists claim the man was killed by bullets shot the previous day as he demonstrated against the government and the lack of basic services.

Iraqi protesters carry the coffin of a man on September 4th, 2018. Family and human rights activists claim the man was killed by bullets shot the previous day as he demonstrated against the government and the lack of basic services.

Iraqi protesters break into an official building as one protester waves a regional flag.

Iraqi protesters break into an official building as one protester waves a regional flag.

An Iraqi protester waves fire bombs during a protest outside the regional government headquarters in Basra on September 5th, 2018.

An Iraqi protester waves fire bombs during a protest outside the regional government headquarters in Basra on September 5th, 2018.

Armed Iraqi civilians attend a funeral on September 4th, 2018. Family and human rights activists claim the man was killed the previous day while demonstrating against the government and the lack of basic services.

Armed Iraqi civilians attend a funeral on September 4th, 2018. Family and human rights activists claim the man was killed the previous day while demonstrating against the government and the lack of basic services.

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