Protesters blocked the entrance to Iraq’s Umm Qasr port on Thursday after a brief resumption of operations was reported, port sources said.
Iraqi security forces have been ordered to enforce the law and arrest “saboteurs” who were blocking roads, an Iraqi army spokesman told reporters on Thursday.
Security and oil sources had earlier reported that operations resumed at a port and an oil refinery in southern Iraq on Thursday after protesters left both areas, port officials.
Anti-government demonstrators had blocked roads at Umm Qasr commodities port, halting operations for more than a week, and stopped fuel tankers at Nassiriya oil refinery on Wednesday, causing shortages in the south.
The sources said the protesters had left but did not say why or how.
At least three anti-government protesters were killed in clashes with security forces in southern Iraq on Tuesday, officials said, as authorities tried to reopen the country’s main port, which had been blocked by demonstrators for three days.
Security and medical officials said a protester was killed and eight more were wounded in Umm Qasr, a key oil terminal on the Arabian Gulf. The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, a semi-official agency, said two people were killed and 23 wounded in clashes in the southern city of Nasiriyah.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, said security forces in Umm Qasr had been firing live ammunition and tear gas, and that protesters seized an armored vehicle.
Iraq has seen massive anti-government demonstrations in Baghdad and across the mostly Shia south since Oct. 25.
Umm Qasr, on the Arabian Gulf, is Iraq’s main port used for oil exports and the import of goods.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has expressed support for the protesters’ demands and condemned violence on all sides while resisting calls to step down. He has called on the protesters to reopen roads so that life can return to normal, saying the disruptions caused by the protests are costing the country billions of dollars.
He met with senior judicial and security officials at the Federal Police Headquarters late Monday to discuss ways to restore stability while preserving the right to protest and protecting private property, according to a government statement.