Thousands of protesters were blocking all roads leading to Iraq’s main Gulf port Umm Qasr on Saturday, after security forces used live rounds and tear gas on them overnight, security sources said.
Operations at the port have been at a complete standstill since Wednesday, after protesters first blocked its entrance on Tuesday.
Umm Qasr receives the vast bulk of Iraq’s imports of grain, vegetable oils and sugar, needed to feed a country heavily dependent on imported food. Iraq’s oil exports take place mostly from nearby offshore platforms which have not been affected.
Trucks carrying goods have been prevented from entering or leaving the port. Some international shipping lines have halted operations because of the port’s closure, port officials said.