State of emergency declared in Baghdad as protesters take Iraqi parliament

A state of emergency was declared in the Iraqi capital on Saturday as protesters stormed Iraq’s parliament, after bursting into the Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, where other key buildings including the U.S. Embassy are located, in a dramatic escalation of the country’s political crisis.

Live footage on Iraqi television showed swarms of protesters, who have been demanding government reform, inside the parliament building, waving flags, chanting and breaking chairs. Some lawmakers were berated and beaten with flags as they fled the building while other demonstrators smashed the car windows. Others remained trapped inside rooms in parliament and feared for their lives, lawmakers said.

Baghdad Operations Command said all roads into the capital had been closed. A U.S. Embassy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that staff were not being evacuated from their compound, which is about a mile away from the parliament building. Organizers of the demonstration urged protesters not to attack embassies.

The surge of protesters into the secure area, which is off limits to most Iraqis, was the culmination of months of street protests. Under huge political pressure, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has attempted to reshuffle his cabinet and meet the demands of the demonstrators, who have been spurred on by the powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. But he has been hampered by a deeply

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