Iraqis buy food from a vendor in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on September 9. Photo: AFP

Calm returned to the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Sunday after several nights of violent demonstrations by angry residents demanding that the central government stop neglecting their region.

Twelve people were killed and several important buildings were set ablaze by protesters in the city of three million people, which is once again humming with commercial activity.

“After a week of smoke and anger, everything is back to normal”, Faeq Abdel Karim, a 44-year-old wedding photographer, told AFP.

At the market, egg vendor Faleh Mane was delighted to be back in business. “The market is as it was before – likewise road traffic”, he said.

However,  the grievances that triggered the unrest – widespread corruption and inadequate public services, which resulted in 30,000 people being hospitalized due to polluted water – have yet to be addressed and residents say they will continue to push for reform.

Montazer al-Karkuchi, coordinator of the Rally for Basra Youth, told AFP that the protest movement is “not finished while there are no concrete projects and serious government measures” to tackle the problems afflicting the port city.