Iraqi officials say 27 protesters have been shot dead in the last 24 hours, amid spiraling violence in Baghdad and southern Iraq.
Another 152 others have been injured in clashes in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on Thursday, according to Al Arabiya sources.
Protesters have taken control of al-Nasr and al-Zaytoun bridges in the city, reported Al Arabiya's correspondent. Meanwhile, AFP and local media put the death toll up from eight to 13 at Thursday 11:00 a.m. local time.
A curfew has been opposed in response to the clashes, said local officials. Nationally, the government announced it is setting up military-led ‘crisis cells’ aimed at quelling mass unrest according to a military statement on Thursday.
The province of Dhi Qar, which Nasiriyah is the capital of, has been one of the centers of the ongoing protests in Iraq.
Elsewhere in the country, protesters blocked roads connecting Baghdad to Diyala province. Al Arabiya sources also reported clashes in Samawah, in Muthanna province north of Nasiriyah.
The clashes between security forces and protesters come the night after anti-government protesters burned down the Iranian consulate building in Najaf on Wednesday night. Baghdad and Tehan both condemned the attack on Thursday morning.