ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security forces killed at least seven protesters and injured dozens more during ongoing demonstrations in the capital of Baghdad, according to media reports.
Security and medical sources told Reuters that riot police had repeated their previous crackdown tactics of shooting live rounds and tear gas canisters directly at protesters, killing four and wounding 78, some of whom had been struck by rubber bullets.
Incidents are now concentrated primarily near two bridges in the capital that lead to entrances of the heavily fortified Green Zone, where many government offices and foreign missions are located.
According to Reuters, protesters in Baghdad continue to control parts of three bridges that have been a continued site of standoffs between the two sides, with many demonstrators holed up in a skeletal, multi-story building just across from one of them.
Since they began in early October, widespread national protests and the security forces' harsh response have resulted in the deaths of at least 300, while some 12,000 have been injured, according to Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights.
On Monday, security sources said that crowds in southern Iraq had blocked the key shipping port of Umm Qasr for the second time while those in Baghdad had closed the Central Bank of Iraq.
Demonstrators are calling for radical change in Iraq’s political system, which they say fails to address their needs but instead serves only the interests of a small governing elite and foreign countries such as Iran. They decry a lack of employment opportunities, the dismal state of public services, and widespread government corruption.
Editing by John J. Catherine