Clashes between police and protesters killed five people in Baghdad on Saturday in a resumption of anti-government unrest, as security forces deployed in their hundreds to keep demonstrations away from central squares in the Iraqi capital, reports Trend referring to Reuters.
Police and medical sources reported the casualties after days of violence around anti-government protests that killed at least 81 people in Baghdad and other cities earlier this week.
Iraq’s semi-official High Commission for Human Rights put the toll at 94 dead. Reuters could not verify its figures.
The new clashes shattered a day of relative calm after authorities lifted a curfew and traffic moved normally in the center of the city. One square where protesters had gathered in their hundreds in previous was packed with hundreds of policemen and other security personnel.
The unrest is the deadliest Iraq has seen since the declared defeat of Islamic State in 2017 and has shaken Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s year-old government. The government has responded with vague reform promises that are unlikely to placate Iraqis.
In eastern Baghdad, police snipers shot at demonstrators and several people were wounded, Reuters reporters said.
In the southern city of Nassiriya, where at least 18 people were killed during the week, police fired live rounds at demonstrators, and protesters torched the headquarters of several political parties in the city, police said. These included the headquarters of the powerful Dawa party that dominated Iraq’s government from 2003 until 2018 elections.
Violence also broke out again in Diwaniya, another city south of Baghdad, police said.
Iraqi state television meanwhile broadcast live footage of a meeting between the parliament speaker and what it said were protest leaders. The speaker on Friday proposed improving public housing for the poor and job opportunities for young people, as well as holding those who had killed protesters to account.