Iraqi security forces kill 5 in the south and protests continue (sources)

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Security forces opened fire on protesters in the south of the country, killing at least five people and wounding dozens as unrest began weeks ago in Baghdad and some southern cities, police and medical sources said.

The sources said that the protesters gathered at three main bridges in the city of Nasiriyah, and security forces used live ammunition and tear gas canisters to disperse them, killing three people.

The sources added that more than 50 others were injured in clashes in the city, most of them with live bullets and tear gas canisters.

Security forces also killed at least two protesters and wounded more than 70 on Sunday after live ammunition was used to disperse protests near the Gulf port of Umm Qasr, near Basra, police and medics said.

Hospital sources said the cause of death was live bullets, adding that some of the injured were in critical condition.

Protesters had rallied to demand that security forces open roads around the port, which were blocked by government forces to prevent them from reaching its entrance.

Port officials said security forces forcibly dispersed on Friday protesters who closed the port and reopened the port.

Umm Qasr is the country’s largest commodity port and imports cereals, vegetable oils and sugar shipments to a country heavily dependent on imported food.

At least 330 people have been killed since unrest began in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the biggest wave of protests in the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Protesters are demanding the overthrow of the political elite, which they say is corrupt and serves foreign powers, while many Iraqis live in poverty without jobs, health care or education.

The unrest ended the relative calm that followed the Islamic State’s defeat in 2017.

Medical sources evacuated infants and children from a hospital in central Nassiriya overnight after tear gas spread through their corridors, two medical sources said.

Protests continued in Nasiriyah on Sunday, including setting fire to some government offices, the sources said.

Elsewhere in southern Iraq, police said hundreds of protesters set fire to tires and blocked some roads on Sunday in Basra, preventing government employees from reaching their offices.

According to medical and security sources, Iraqi security forces wounded at least 24 people overnight in the city of Karbala after opening fire on protesters to prevent them from reaching the local government headquarters.

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