Iraqi forces shoot three dead in protests

Security forces have shot dead three protesters in Iraq, adding to more than 200 killed in unrest.
Security forces have shot dead three protesters in Iraq, adding to more than 200 killed in unrest.

Iraqi forces have shot three dead three anti-government protesters in the southern city of Nassiriya, adding to scores killed in weeks of unrest that have shaken the war-weary country out of relative stability.

Protesters had gathered on a bridge in the city and security forces shot live ammunition to disperse them, sources said.

More than 100 other people were wounded in the clashes.

Security forces also fired tear gas at demonstrators in Baghdad injuring more than 20 people, a day after they pushed protests back toward one main square in the Iraqi capital.

Unrest erupted in Baghdad in early October with protests over a lack of jobs and services spreading across the capital and much of southern Iraq.

More than 280 people have been killed in the clashes, according to a tally of medical and police sources.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's government has offered some measures to quell unrest including handouts to the poor and more job opportunities , but demonstrators are now calling for an overhaul of Iraq's sectarian political system and the departure of its entire ruling elite.

Iraq has suffered decades of war, sanctions and sectarian violence, but the country had been experiencing rare calm after the defeat of the Islamic State group in 2017.

Many Iraqis want serious political change but also fear the consequences of more instability as armed groups compete for power and the armed forces, with Western help, continue to battle militants in northern parts of the country.

In northern Iraq on Sunday near the city of Kirkuk an explosive device detonated hitting a vehicle carrying Italian special forces, injuring five soldiers, the Italian military said.

Australian Associated Press