Protests in Najaf, Iraq, continue

Seventeen anti-government protesters have been injured in clashes with Saraya al-Salam militiamen in the holy city of Najaf since Monday. The militiamen, who are followers of influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, are known as the ‘blue hats’ for their distinctive headwear. They had been participating in Iraq’s nationwide anti-government protests and protected the movement from armed pro-government forces.

However, Sadr has since withdrawn his support for the anti-government protests, which began in October, and has thrown his support behind the new prime minister designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi. Now the ‘blue hats’ have turned on the crowd, allegedly using live ammunition.