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Death Toll Rises, Hundreds Hurt in Iraq Anti-Government Protests


Anti-government demonstrators set fires and block a street during a violent protest in Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 3, 2019.
Anti-government demonstrators set fires and block a street during a violent protest in Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 3, 2019.

Six people were killed during anti-government protests in Iraq Thursday, raising the death toll to at least 27, authorities said.

Police and medical officials said the protestors were shot to death in Nasiriyah, a city south of the capital of Baghdad.

Since Tuesday, the demonstrations have spread in Baghdad and in areas south of the capital.

Iraqi security forces used tear gas and fired live bullets Thursday to disperse protesters in Baghdad.

Iraq's Violent Protests Raise Fears Over Country's Future
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In addition to live rounds and tear gas, authorities have deployed water cannons and rubber bullets to try to break up the crowds.

A police officer and hundreds more have been injured since the protests began.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi announced a curfew Thursday seeking to control the protests.

Demonstrators are unhappy about poor government services and corruption.

There were widespread reports of internet outages on Thursday.

The protests are the first major challenge to Abdul-Mahdi, who formed his government a year ago.

The government blamed the violence on "groups of riot inciters" and said security forces worked to protect the safety of peaceful protesters.

Iraq's parliament has ordered a probe into the violence.

Many Iraqi citizens blame politicians and government officials for the corruption that has prevented the country from rebounding from years of sectarian violence and the battle to defeat Islamic State militants who at one point controlled large areas in the northern and western part of the country.

At his weekly Cabinet meeting earlier this week, the prime minister released a statement promising jobs for graduates. He also ordered the oil ministry and other government agencies to apply a 50 percent quota for local workers in future contracts with foreign countries.

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