Seven die in Iraq protests


Seven people were killed when Iraqi security forces used live fire and teargas on demonstrators in Baghdad, security and medical sources said, in renewed deadly violence as authorities seek to crush anti-government protests.

The cause of death was live fire and teargas canisters aimed directly at the head, sources said, adding at least 78 people were wounded in the unrest.

Police said one protester was killed near Baghdad’s Sinak bridge and another near the adjacent Ahrar bridge.

Two other critically wounded protesters died in hospital, one from wounds caused by live fire shots to the head and the other hit in the head by a teargas canister, police and hospital sources said.

Three more were killed later, including two by live fire near Ahrar bridge.

Hospital sources said some protesters had injuries from live ammunition and others were wounded by rubber bullets and teargas canisters.

Protesters hold ground controlling three major bridges in central Baghdad, lead to the fortified Green Zone where government buildings and foreign embassies are.

At least 325 people have died since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Deadly use of live ammunition, teargas and stun grenades against mostly unarmed demonstrators stokes unrest.

The protests are an eruption of public anger against a ruling elite seen as enriching itself off the state and serving foreign powers, especially Iran, as many Iraqis languish in poverty without jobs, healthcare or education.

The unrest shattered relative calm following the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.