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Protesters Set Fire to Kurdish Party Offices in Sulaimaniya

Protesters Set Fire to Kurdish Party Offices in Sulaimaniya

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 - 07:15
A Kurdish protester throws stones during a rally against the Kurdistan Regional Government in al-Sulaimaniya, Iraq December 18, 2017. (Reuters)

Angry anti-government protests set fire on Monday to the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) office in the city of al-Sulaimaniya in the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region.

Social media footage showed a building belonging to the ruling KDP on fire and a spokesman for its coalition partner in government, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told Reuters an office belonging to them was also set ablaze by protesters.

Two other party offices were torched, local media reported. Reuters was able to independently verify only those fires at the KDP and PUK offices, but Iraqi state television reported that the offices of several Kurdish political parties had been set on fire, without naming the parties.

At least 3,000 Kurdish demonstrators had gathered in al-Sulaimaniya for the protests on Monday against the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), angered by years of austerity and unpaid public sector salaries.

In the decade following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, Kurdistan insulated itself against violence plaguing the rest of the country and enjoyed an economic boom fueled by rising Iraqi oil revenues, of which the region received a share.

The bubble began to deflate in early 2014 when the Baghdad central government slashed funds to the KRG after it built its own oil pipeline to Turkey in pursuit of economic independence.

After the September 25 independence referendum, the Iraqi government responded by seizing Kurdish-held Kirkuk and other territory disputed between the Kurds and the central government. It also banned direct flights to Kurdistan and demanded control over border crossings.

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