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Tribal fighters secure ISIS prisons amid chaos in southern Iraq
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Tribal fighters secure ISIS prisons amid chaos in southern Iraq

Southern Iraqi tribal fighters are posted around a prison where ISIS detainees are being held, over fears that the chaos of mass rallies could be used to free the militants, clan elders say.
Tribal sheikh Natham Rumayad claimed unidentified “infiltrators” were entering the Nasiriyah area, which has been rocked by a crackdown on demonstrations in recent days.
Sheikh Rumayad said tribal militias set up checkpoints on the major roads towards the city of Nasiriyah to check those entering the area and were guarding Al Hoot prison.
“We have communication with the police commanders and security commanders in the province,” he said.
“We heard that there are movements of infiltrators towards the police centres and Al Hoot prison where terrorists are imprisoned. Therefore tribal sheikhs decided to help secure the security situation.”
Sheikh Rumayad did not specify who the “infiltrators” were but said some were sparking much of the violence at recent protests.
Baghdad and southern Iraq have been rocked by weeks of demonstrations against corruption and poor public services, which led on Sunday to Parliament accepting prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s resignation two days earlier.
Security services have killed more than 400 people, with live ammunition being used to disperse demonstrators.
Rights groups and activists have also decried the practice of firing tear gas canisters at head height, killing several protesters.
Late on Wednesday night, in the worst episode of violence since protests began at the start of October, 29 people were killed when security forces opened fire on protesters occupying a bridge in Nasiriyah. Local sources put the death toll closer to 45.
The next day, armed men roved the streets of the city and witnesses reported hearing gunfire.
Into the volatile situation stepped the local tribes.
In southern Iraq, major tribes wield significant power. They have their own courts, social structures and patronage networks.
On Sunday, parades of men marched through the streets holding tribal flags and pictures of their dead. The faces on the posters were mostly males in their late teens and early 20s.
Sheikh Rumayad said the militias were mobilising to protect demonstrators and prevent more violence.
“Today, we were here to protect the protesters first and secondly to protect the security and the police,” he said.
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