200820 Reham Yaqoub
Reham Yaqoub, a nutritionist and media personality, has been assassinated. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Unknown gunmen have assassinated three women human rights activists, including Reham Yaqoub, a nutritionist and media personality, and injured two others in the governorates of Basra, Nasiriya and Baghdad, Iraqi security sources said Wednesday.

The sources told German News Agency three women activists were killed in Basra governorate, and a fourth activist was seriously injured by unidentified gunmen, while a civilian activist was wounded in an explosion targeting his home in the Nasiriya governorate, and a paramedic activist was wounded in Baghdad by gunfire.

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The sources said all the victims were activists in the protests taking place in nine Iraqi cities since October last year demanding political and economic reforms and solving the unemployment problems in the country.

Among the activists targeted by the assassinations was IraqiYaqoub, who took part in the recent popular protests that rocked Iraq.

Sources told Reuters Yaqoub was killed by a rifle that was brandished by two gunmen on a motorcycle.

The assassinations came a month after Iraqi security and extremism researcher Hisham Al Hashemi was killed after three gunmen on two motorcycles fired at him from meters away near his home in the capital Baghdad.

Basra Police Chief Major General Abbas Naji announced, in a statement to reporters, “it was decided to form a committee of senior police officers to investigate the murder of Dr. Reham Yaqoub,” and stressed that “the perpetrators must be arrested within 72 hours, to bring them to justice.”

The latest wave of violence began when activist Tahseen Osama was assassinated, on Friday, which led to a return of street demonstrations for three days, as security forces opened live bullets on protesters who threw rocks and petrol bombs at the governor’s house and blocked many main roads.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kazemi has fired Basra Police Chief Lieutenant General Rashid Falih, and a number of security directors from their posts due to the recent Basra assassinations.

“Colluding with the killers or submitting to their threats is unacceptable, and we will do all that is necessary by the Ministry of Interior and security agencies to undertake the task of protecting society’s security from the threats of outlaws,” he said on his Twitter account.