Iraqi police open fire on protestors in Baghdad

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Security forces opened fire on demonstrators on Wednesday in central Baghdad, a day after demonstrations over unemployment, corruption and poor public services had also turned violent.

Iraqis had gathered in the Zaafaraniyah district in southeastern Baghdad to stage a peaceful protest early on Wednesday, but police opened fire.

The Iraqi army was deployed early on Wednesday to the streets of Iraq's Nasiriyah alongside security forces stationed at the city, and had fired warning shots in a bid to disperse protests, acocrding to AFP.

The Iraqi police chief called on his forces to show restraint and protect demonstrators.

A third Iraqi demonstrator died from wounds sustained when police fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse protests in Baghdad and the south, medics and security sources said Wednesday.

The 55-year-old man was wounded in Tuesday’s demonstration in Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir Square, the sources said.

Two other people were killed and 200 wounded in clashes in Iraq on Tuesday as security forces used tear gas, water cannon and live fire to disperse demonstrations over unemployment, corruption and poor public services.

The Baghdad Operations Command denied the death of a protester who was reportedly killed during demonstrations northeast of the capital.

iraq protests (supplied)
iraq protests (supplied)

The main protest on Tuesday erupted in Baghdad, where one protester was killed, with some demonstrations taking place in other areas, including in the southern city of Nassiriya where a protester was also shot dead, according to police.

A government statement on Tuesday said 40 members of the security forces were among those injured and blamed “groups of inciting riots” for the violence.

The United Nations on Wednesday expressed concern over the violence and urged calm, with the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert reaffirming in a statement the right to protest.

“Hennis-Plasschaert urges the authorities to exercise restraint in their handling of the protests to ensure the safety of peaceful protesters while upholding law and order and protecting the people, public and private property,” it said.

On Wednesday, security forces blocked several roads in Baghdad, including a bridge that leads to the fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies, as part of tightened security measures, a security source said.

“Orders from our commanders are clear and definitive; no protesters are to approach the Green Zone,” said one security official.

In a bid to temper angry protests, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Tuesday issued a statement promising jobs for graduates. He instructed the oil ministry and other government bodies to start including a 50 percent quota for local workers in subsequent contracts with foreign companies.

(With Agencies)