Protesters inflamed by a Shiite cleric’s speech about government inaction and corruption stormed the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad on Saturday and invaded the Iraqi Parliament building.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters walked and ran freely around the Green Zone, a normally off-limits area housing government buildings and foreign embassies, according to images broadcast on state-run news channel Al-Iraqiya.
Protesters again stormed a monument inside the Green Zone, where Saddam’s swords are featured despite efforts by the Iraqi security forces to stop them.
Several people were injured in the confrontations, including two Iraqi security forces, according to Kurdish television network Rudaw.
The chaos erupted hours before Iraqi party leaders were due to arrive for meetings in the Presidential Palace within the Green Zone.
Despite ongoing confrontations Sunday morning, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has arrived at the palace for the talks, Rudaw said.
Iraqi security forces later took control of the Green Zone, Saad Maan, the spokesman for Baghdad’s Operations Command, told Al-Iraqiya. A state of emergency was declared and all city entrances were closed.