Dozens of Iraqi protesters were wounded in Baghdad and other cities in clashes with security forces trying to clear blocked roads, security and medical sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull.
In Baghdad’s Tayaran Square, protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters witnesses said.
Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protesters burned tyres and blocked main roads in cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. They say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including a new government acceptable to Iraqis.
“Security forces should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and who we are? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?” said a woman protester in Baghdad who declined to give her name.
Baghdad police said it successfully reopened all roads closed by “violent gatherings”.
Mass protests gripped Iraq since October, with mostly young protesters demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and keeping Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people died.
Numbers dwindled but protests resumed last week as demonstrators sought to keep up momentum after attention turned to the threat of a US-Iran conflict following Washington’s killing of Tehran’s top general in an air strike inside Iraq.
The killing of Qassem Soleimani, to which Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi military bases, highlighted the influence of foreign powers in Iraq, especially Iran and the United States.