BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi police opened fire to disperse dozens of protesters near the southern oil hub of Basra on Sunday as they demonstrated against a shortage of jobs, electricity, water and other basic services, police and local officials said.
Police sources said eight protesters were wounded in the shooting while a local mayor said one demonstrator was killed and three were wounded.
“Protesters were only making fair demands for jobs and better basic services but police opened fire and killed one protester,” said Yaseen al-Battat, a local mayor from the Imam Sadiq area where the protesters were.
Police and oil officials said Sunday’s incident didn’t impact the security or operations of the giant southern oilfields.
The protesters, from farmland areas around 100 km (62 miles) north of Basra, gathered on a highway located near the southern oilfields perimeters of West Qurna-2, which is being developed by Russia’s Lukoil, and West Qurna 1oilfield, operated by Exxon Mobil, police said.
Local communities and tribes in Iraq, where foreign oil companies are developing the OPEC nation’s vast energy reserves, periodically protest to urge companies to provide jobs and other benefits.
Stability in Basra, the main southern city at the edge of the Gulf, is of vital importance as a hub for oil exports accounting for over 95 percent of government revenues.
Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle