Demonstrators gesture as they take part in ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq. Reuters
Renewed clashes overnight in Baghdad between anti-government demonstrators and security forces killed four protesters, Iraqi security and hospital officials said on Thursday.
The altercations on two key bridges in the Iraqi capital also left at least 44 people wounded, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Both bridges appeared to be calm by morning hours.
Demonstrators pose for a photo as they take part in ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq. Reuters
Initial reports had two killed but the death toll later rose after two of the wounded protesters died of their wounds.
Fighting also resumed overnight in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, between protesters and security forces.
In Baghdad, one protester was killed when security forces used live rounds to repel demonstrators on Ahrar Bridge. The other protester was killed when a tear gas cannister was fired on Sinak Bridge, hitting him in the head.
Two protester later succumbed to their injuries.
Protesters have been occupying parts of Baghdad’s three main bridges — Sinak and Ahrar and Jumurhiya — leading to the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government.
Tents have been set up under the bridges and also on central Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement, where first-aid volunteers treat those wounded by pieces of exploded tear gas cannisters and live fire.
Protesters stage a sit-in while security forces stand guard behind concrete barriers in Baghdad. AP
"Around 1:30 a.m., the shooting started with live ammunition, tear gas, and sound grenades,” said one volunteer, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisal. "There were martyrs and we received several injured,” people with breathing difficulties and bullet wounds.
In Karbala, the protesters threw crudely made fire bombs, also known as Molotov cocktails, at security forces while anti-riot police responded by throwing stones at the protesters.
Dozens of protesters had attacked the Iranian Consulate in this city earlier in November, scaling concrete barriers and saying they rejected the influence of the neighboring country in Iraqi affairs.
A demonstrator wears a mask during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad on Thursday. Reuters
At least 320 protesters have been killed and thousands have been wounded since the unrest began on Oct. 1, when demonstrators took to the streets in Baghdad and across Iraq’s mainly Shiite south to decry rampant government corruption and lack of basic services despite Iraq’s oil wealth.
The leaderless movement seeks to dismantle the sectarian system and unseat the government, including Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
Separately, a Katyusha rocket landed near the fortified Green Zone, Iraq’s seat of government, police officials said. There were no casualties from the incident. Last week two rockets landed in Tigris river and a stadium, both near the Green Zone.
Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who leads parliament's largest bloc, had asked Abdul Mahdi to call an early election. When the premier refused, he called on his main political rival Hadi al-Amiri to help oust him.
Security forces used live fire against protesters near Shuhada Bridge in central Baghdad. Gunfire was used against demonstrators in Basra, the main source of Iraq's oil wealth, who had staged a days-long sit-in.
A fresh wave of demonstrations has rocked Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces since Friday against government corruption. Authorities have imposed curfew in Karbala as anti-government protests continued in the southern city.
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