|BAGHDAD, Sept. 27, 2018 -- Unknown gunmen shot dead a female head of a local human rights organization on Tuesday, leaving another man injured, a local human rights activist and a police source said on Wednesday.
The gunmen opened fire on Soad al-Ali, who has been involved in recent protests in Iraq's southern province of Basra, and a man believed to be her driver.
She was killed on the spot in Abbasiyah neighborhood in the center of the city of Basra, some 550 km south of Baghdad, Hassan al-Basri, a local human rights activist told Xinhua.
"Apparently, the motive of the attack is that al-Ali was organizing protests demanding better services in Basra, but there is no official confirmation for the reason behind the attack," Basri said.
A police source in Basra anonymously told Xinhua that "initial investigation indicates that there was a criminal motive behind the attack on al-Ali, and that her ex-husband apparently was involved in the attack."
So far, there is no official statement by the Interior Ministry or from the security authorities in Basra about the incident as investigation is still underway.
Soad al-Ali, 46, was repeatedly seen leading dozens of women to participate in demonstrations in recent weeks protesting on wide-spread corruption, deterioration of public services and water contamination in the country's southern province.
The protests turned violent when hundreds of angry demonstrators burned the provincial government buildings and offices of leading political parties and headquarters of some Shiite militias, in addition to burning the Iranian consulate in Basra city.
Basra, the province's capital city which bears the same name, has long witnessed complaints among its over two million residents about the collapsing infrastructure, power cuts and corruption.
Water supply in the province is also widely criticized for high salinity, with thousands of residents having been hospitalized.
The protesters also accused the influential political parties of being behind the wide-spread corruption, which led to high unemployment and failure in rehabilitation of the country's electricity, water and other basic services.