Prominent female activist in Iraq shot dead by unknown gunmen


Riham Yaqoob, a doctor and prominent activist who led local anti-government protests was shot dead by unidentified assailants in the Iraqi city of Basra on Wednesday.

Yaqoob’s killing is the third incident this week in which gunmen targeted anti-government political activists.

On Friday, activist Tahseen Osama was killed, prompting dozens to take to the streets and block roads to demand the authorities uncover those responsible.

The killing of Yaqoob prompted Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to dismiss Basra’s chief of police and other security officials. He vowed to “do everything necessary for the security forces to undertake their duties”.

“Complicity with the killers and submitting to their threats is rejected and we will do everything necessary for the ministry of interior and security agencies to carry out the task of protecting the security of society from the threats of outlaws,” he added.

Mr. Kadhimi – a former intelligence chief – took office in May, five months after his predecessor resigned in response to mass protests in the capital Baghdad, Basra and other southern cities.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic reached Iraq, thousands of people were regularly taking to the streets to express their anger at endemic corruption, high unemployment, dire public services and foreign interference.

Their demands included sweeping away Iraq’s political system, which allocates positions to political parties based on ethnic and sectarian identity, encouraging patronage and corruption.

More than 500 protesters were shot dead by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to militias during the unrest. Thousands of others were injured.

Mr. Kadhimi has pledged to hold those responsible for the killings to account and offered the dead protesters’ families US$8,380 (£6,340) in compensation.

He has also set next June as the date for early parliamentary elections. (Source: BBC)