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Two protesters shot dead in Iraqi Kurdish town: Hospital

AFP , Saturday 10 Oct 2015
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Guards shot dead two demonstrators in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Kalar Saturday as protesters tried to storm the local headquarters of the regional president's party, a hospital spokesman said.

"Two protesters have died of bullet wounds. One was 19 and the other 40," the official told AFP.

Witnesses and a security official said the protesters eventually set fire to the local office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Kalar, a town in the southernmost part of Iraq's Kurdish region.

Thousands of people demonstrated in the main southern Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, in Kalar and in several other towns Saturday, demanding that acting regional president Massud Barzani step down.

Two protesters were shot dead in similar circumstances on Friday in Qala Diza, further north.

The demonstrations were initially protests against the non-payment of salaries to civil servants by the Kurdish Regional Government, which faces a dire budget crisis.

The latest protests evolved into a mobilisation against Barzani in areas of Iraqi Kurdistan where opposition to the KDP is traditionally strong.

Barzani's mandate expired in August and political talks over his succession have failed. The 69-year-old leader has held the presidency since 2005.

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