Violent clashes in Iraq leave eight dead

Violent clashes in Iraq leave eight dead

Eight people have died and at least 90 were wounded on Thursday in renewed clashes in central Baghdad.

Separately, one policeman was killed and six others wounded when an improvised explosive device exploded in north-east Baghdad.

One person was killed when security forces hurled sound bombs at crowds of protesters on the strategic Sinak bridge late on Thursday.

Earlier clashes had erupted on Baghdad’s Rasheed Street, a cultural centre known for its old crumbling buildings, and on the Ahrar bridge. Security forces fired live ammunition, tear gas and sound bombs to disperse dozens of protesters, causing the fatalities.

Anti-government protesters have set up camp on bridges leading to the Green Zone in Baghdad (Khalid Mohammed/AP)
Anti-government protesters have set up camp on bridges leading to the Green Zone in Baghdad (Khalid Mohammed/AP)

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.

Security forces are deployed on the other side to repel them from entering the area, which houses government buildings and various foreign embassies, including the United States.

Two protesters were killed when tear gas canisters struck them and one was killed by live ammunition during the clashes in Rasheed street.

Four protesters were killed in fighting near Ahrar and Sinak bridges early on Thursday.

Fighting also resumed overnight in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, between protesters and security forces.

Tents have been set up under the bridges and also on central Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the protest movement, where first-aid volunteers treat those wounded by pieces of exploded tear gas canisters and live fire.

Protesters receive treatment at Tahrir Square in Baghdad after renewed clashes with security forces (Ali Abdul Hassan/AP)
Protesters receive treatment at Tahrir Square in Baghdad after renewed clashes with security forces (Ali Abdul Hassan/AP)

In Karbala, protesters threw crudely made fire bombs at security forces while anti-riot police responded by throwing stones at protesters.

Dozens of demonstrators had attacked the Iranian consulate in this city earlier in November, scaling concrete barriers and saying they rejected the influence of the neighbouring country in Iraqi affairs.

At least 320 protesters have been killed and thousands have been wounded since the unrest began on October 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.

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