At least four protesters were killed and scores injured in clashes with security forces in the capital as demonstrations over government corruption and failure to provide better living conditions for Iraqis seriously escalated.
The number of dead and injured on Saturday was reported by medical and security officials who spoke to journalists on condition of anonymity. Three of the dead were shot, and the fourth died after being struck on the head with a tear gas canister.
Earlier Saturday, security forces using live ammunition cleared demonstrators from three of the main bridges over the Tigris, pushing protesters further back from the Green Zone which has been a focal point of the unrest since it kicked off a month ago. Some demonstrators reportedly threw molotov cocktails during the clashes.
Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi issued a statement appealing to protesters to return to normal life, while admitting errors on the part of politicians and promising investigations into the deaths of demonstrators.
“Political forces and parties are important institutions in any democratic system, and have made great sacrifices, but they’ve also made many mistakes,” he said.
Some 250 people are estimated to have died across the country as protests fed by public dissatisfaction and high unemployment grow.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq launched a dedicated email address on Saturday for people to report alleged human rights abuses “particularly during the ongoing protests.”
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