Commander of al-Sadr’s militia killed in Iraq attack

A commander of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia was killed in an attack in Iraq on Thursday.

Local security sources said a vehicle carrying Hazim al-Hilfi, a commander of the Saraya al-Salam militia, was fired on by unidentified gunmen in Basra province.

He suffered fatal injuries in the attack and died on the spot.

Najaf assault

Thousands of university students rallied in Iraq’s capital to condemn Wednesday’s attack by al-Sadr supporters on anti-government protesters in Najaf.

The students called on the Iraqi government to protect demonstrators as the death toll from the violent assault rose to 11 on Thursday.

Health officials said more than 120 people were treated for injuries after al-Sadr supporters forcefully dispersed protesters late on Wednesday night.

The Shia cleric’s supporters — known as the Blue Hats in reference to their headgear — fired at protesters and set alight their tents.

They also assaulted demonstrators in the city of Babil, where one person was confirmed dead in the violence.

Protests have continued across Iraq against the appointment of Mohammed Allawi as prime minister-designate.

Iraq’s President Barham Salih last week tasked Allawi with forming a government within a month, but protesters rejected the decision.

Since early October, Iraq has been roiled by mass protests over poor living conditions and corruption, which forced ex-premier Adel Abdul-Mahdi to resign.

The demonstrations have often turned violent and over 600 people have been killed and 17,000 injured, according to an Iraqi human rights group.