At least seven killed as Iraqi security forces fire on protesters

More violence marked second day of angry rallies against unemployment and corruption

AP in Baghdad

Iraqi security forces use a water cannon during a protest in Baghdad on Wednesday. Photograph: Hadi Mizban/AP

At least seven people have been killed and dozens wounded in clashes across Iraq, as security forces fired live ammunition and teargas for the second day to disperse anti-government protesters demanding jobs, improved services and an end to corruption.

The deaths brought the overall number of protesters killed in two days of violence to nine. Protests on Tuesday had left two dead – one in Baghdad and another in the city of Nasiriyah – and over 200 wounded.

The renewed clashes occurred despite a massive security operation mounted by the government in an effort to quash the economically driven protests.

Hundreds of heavily armed security forces and riot police deployed on Baghdad streets blocked all intersections leading to a major central square on Wednesday to prevent a repeat of Tuesday’s protests. Residents said authorities had shut down social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Groups of protesters continued to take to the streets, some of them calling for the government to be overthrown. Thick black smoke hung over the city as demonstrators set fire to tyres and garbage containers. Bursts of heavy gunfire could be heard intermittently.

The confrontations spread to at least seven other provinces in the country, with an estimated 3,000 protesters taking to the streets in the southern city of Basra. Late on Wednesday, a curfew was imposed in the southern cities of Nasiriya, Amara and Hilla.

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