Iraq Protesters Block Roads to Port 11/18 06:52
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Anti-government demonstrators in southern Iraq blocked roads
leading to the country's main port on Monday, while the country's central bank
reduced working hours because of ongoing demonstrations, security officials
Protesters burned tires, blocking the roads to the Umm Qasr port,
responsible for the bulk of the country's commodities imports, a Basra security
Protesters also cut roads to the airport with burning tires in the holy city
This is the second time the port has been blocked since the protests began
on Oct. 1, when thousands of Iraqis, mostly youth, took to the streets
denouncing rampant government corruption, failing state services including
electricity cuts, and a lack of job opportunities.
"It was tough times when the port was closed," said a senior port official,
referring to previous closures on Oct. 29 that lasted nearly a week. The source
said productivity had been cut by nearly half as a result but imports had been
rebounding gradually since. The port is an important source of revenue for the
Meanwhile, working hours were reduced for employees of the Central Bank in
Baghdad, located on the famous Rasheed Street, because of the ongoing protests.
"We are still working normally but we reduced working hours," said a senior
director-general in the bank.
On Sunday, two protesters were wounded when security forces fired tear gas
in renewed confrontations with demonstrators on Rasheed Street, close to the
central bank building.
At least 320 people have been killed and thousands wounded in the capital
and the mostly Shiite southern provinces since the unrest began. Almost daily
clashes have seen security forces use heavy tear gas, live rounds and stun guns
to repel demonstrators from reaching the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat
of Iraq's government and also home to various foreign embassies including the