Al-Sudani announces curfew imposition in Kirkuk amid unrest
As protests escalated into violence in Kirkuk, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered a curfew in Kirkuk and "extensive security operations in the areas affected by the riots".
At least one civilian was killed and eight other people were injured Saturday during protests in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a local official said.
The identity and the circumstances surrounding the death were not immediately clear, the director of the local health authority Ziad Khalaf said as quoted by AFP, adding that those injured had been hit by bullets, stones, or glass.
He said a member of the security forces was among the injured.
Kirkuk police spokesperson Amer Shuani told regional broadcaster Kurdistan 24 that the toll was "one dead and five injured".
A curfew was instated in the evening after protests -- between Kurdish residents on one side and Turkmen and Arabs on the other -- descended into violence.
Earlier in the day, police had been deployed to act as a buffer and keep apart the rival groups.
Tensions have been brewing for nearly a week in Kirkuk, which has historically been disputed between the federal government in Baghdad and the authorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
It is worth noting that Arab and Turkmen demonstrators staged a sit-in near the headquarters of the Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk province last Monday, after reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani had ordered them to hand over the site to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Kurdish protesters tried to reach the headquarters on Saturday, an AFP correspondent said.
Simultaneously, al-Sudani ordered a curfew in Kirkuk and "extensive security operations in the areas affected by the riots", a statement from his office said.
He called on all parties to "play their part in preventing strife and preserving security, stability, and order in Kirkuk Governorate".
Al-Sudani, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, ordered security forces in the province "to fulfill their responsibilities in maintaining security and upholding the rule of law".
In 2014, the KDP and the peshmerga, the security forces of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, took control of Kirkuk, an oil-producing region of northern Iraq.
However, federal troops expelled them in the autumn of 2017 following a referendum.