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Iraqi women's rights activist shot dead in Basra

Suad al-Ali, leader of a human rights organisation and a major presence in recent demonstrations, was shot dead on Tuesday in central Basra
Rights activist Suad al-Ali, speaking at a press conference (Twitter)

Iraqi women's rights activist Suad al-Ali has been shot dead in the middle of Basra, in the south of the country on Tuesday. 

Campaigners have condemned the killing of the human rights campaigner, who was an organiser of recent protests against power cuts and water shortages in the southern Iraqi city.

A video posted online on Tuesday showed Ali, head of Al-Weed al-Alaiami For Human Rights, being shot dead on a street in the city's Abbasiya district while waiting by a car with another man who was reportedly injured in the incident. Some outlets, including the BBC, have identified the man as her husband. 

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Basra has recently been rocked by mass demonstrations against shortages of clean water, corruption and power cuts, which have seen government buildings and embassies torched and at least 12 people killed earlier this month by security services and armed groups.

Ali had been a major female presence in Basra's demonstrations, which are usually dominated by men.

The website of the Al-Weed al-Alaiami For Human Rights, which she led, says it aims to "establish cultural and economic conferences, seminars and educational workshops for our society which we have the duty to develop and advance". 

The Gulf Campaign for Human Rights condemned Ali's killing on Wednesday and called for an investigation.

"GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the assassination of Dr Suad Al-Ali and expresses its deep concern over the violation of the right to freedom of assembly of peaceful demonstrators, along with other human rights defenders in Iraq, including lawyers, journalists and bloggers who continue their work bravely despite the risks of arrest or violence," it said in a statement.

Despite threats by armed groups, Ali's death would mark the first public assassination in Basra since protests began in July.

The powerful militias and political parties - many backed by Iran - that control Basra have faced the ire of protesters and have seen their buildings attacked and destroyed.

Protesters have repeatedly reported of threats being issued by militias and parties, who have accused Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US of being behind the demonstrations.

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