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World News

Female protest leader gunned down in Iraq's Basra

(This Aug 19 story corrects month of PM taking power to May from April in sixth paragraph.)

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - A female activist was killed on Wednesday and three others wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire on their car in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, security and health sources told Reuters.

It was the third incident this week in which gunmen targeted an anti-government political activist, after one activist was killed and four others had their car fired upon in a separate incident.

Reham Yacoub was gunned down on Wednesday by assault rifle brandishing gunmen on the back of a motorcycle, the sources told Reuters. She was activist in the local protest movement since 2018 and had led several women’s marches.

The recent wave of violence begun when activist Tahseen Osama was assassinated on Friday, prompting a return of street demonstrations for three days in which security forces opened live fire on protesters who lobbed the governor’s house with rocks and petrol bombs and blocked several main roads.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi subsequently sacked the Basra police and national security chiefs on Monday and ordered an investigation into the violence which calmed protesters down.

Kadhimi took office in May, becoming the third Iraqi head of government in a chaotic 10-week period that followed months of deadly protests in the country, which has been exhausted by decades of sanctions, war, corruption and economic challenges.

Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Alistair Bell

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