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The Latest: Iraq says thousands take to streets in south

M. A Salaam

Oct. 05, 2019

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on anti-government protests in Iraq (all times local): 6:45 p.m. Iraqi officials and a member of the semi-official human rights commission say thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in two southern cities and have set fire to political party offices.
An Iraqi security official and the rights commission official say protesters in Nasiriyah have set ablaze the offices of two political parties in the restive southern city. The two officials said the security forces responded with fire, but there was no immediate word on casualties. The officials described the protest as "very large." In another southern city, Diwaniyah, protesters marched toward local government offices. There were no reports of violence there.
Spontaneous protests started Tuesday in Baghdad and southern cities sparked by endemic corruption and lack of jobs. Security responded with a harsh crackdown, leaving more than 70 killed. — By Qassim Abdul-Zahra.
5:55 p.m.
Iraqi officials say five people have been killed in renewed anti-government protests in the Iraqi capital after security forces fired on them on a fifth day of unrest.
The protests Saturday come after a two-day around-the-clock curfew has been lifted.
This brings the death toll since the protests began on Tuesday to at least 69. A semi-official body put the death toll at 94 in Baghdad and southern cities.
Security forces have responded with live ammunition and tear gas to the unprecedented popular anger, sparked by lack of jobs, and endemic corruption in the oil-rich country.
Health and police officials said a protester was killed in the Zafaraniya neighborhood in south Baghdad, and 13 were wounded. In central Baghdad, four protesters were killed. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to brief reporters.
— By Qassim Abdul-Zahra.
4:40 p.m.
Iraqi officials say one person has been killed and 17 injured as security forces fired on anti-government protesters to disperse renewed demonstrations in the capital Baghdad.
The protests Saturday come after a two-day around-the-clock curfew has been lifted. They also come as Iraqi religious leaders appealed for calm and while politicians scramble to contain the unprecedented popular expression of anger.
Since the start of the protests Tuesday, security forces have responded with live ammunition and tear gas, leaving at least 65 people killed in Baghdad and other southern cities.
Health and police officials said a protester was killed in Zafaraniya in south Baghdad, and 13 were injured. In central Baghdad, four protesters were wounded. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to brief reporters.
The spontaneous rallies are the most serious challenge since the defeat of the Islamic State two years ago. The protesters want jobs, and an end to corruption in the oil-rich country.
— By Qassim Abdul-Zahra.
12:10 p.m.
Iraqi authorities have lifted a curfew in the capital, Baghdad, two days after imposing the measure in an attempt to quell anti-government demonstrations.
Officials say Saturday at least 22 protesters were killed in the previous day's clashes between thousands of protesters and security forces. It was the deadliest day of violence so far in the capital, and brings the national death toll since the unrest erupted Tuesday to 64.
Security remains heavily deployed but streets and main squares are open to traffic after curfew was lifted at 5 a.m. local time. Municipal workers were clearing the streets of the bullets and debris left behind by the latest confrontations.
The violence came despite calls from Iraq's top Shiite cleric for calm. Parliament is to convene Saturday to discuss protesters' demands.
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