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Iraq protests toll climbs to at least 45 killed

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 4, 2019 - Duration: 01:54s

Iraq protests toll climbs to at least 45 killed

Iraqi police opened fire on protesters in central Baghdad on Friday, as hundreds gathered to demonstrate against the government.

Gracie Jerome reports.

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Iraq protests toll climbs to at least 45 killed

Friday has become the deadiest in four days of protests in Iraq - where anti-government sentiment is growing.

Police and medical sources say more than 45 people have now been killed as security forces opened fire on the crowds - most in Baghdad and the southern city of Nassiriya.

The Prime Minister is trying to fool the people, this man says.

He says they're being fired at while they try to protest peacefully - pointing out a sniper position on the roof behind him.

The protests started on Tuesday (October 1), over unemployment and poor living conditions.

But have since escalated into calls for a change of government, which they say is corrupt.

'The people demand the fall of the regime' - they shout in the streets - the same chant that swept the Middle East during the 2011 uprisings.

It's the biggest test so far in a year as Prime Minister for Adel Abdul Mahdi.

In a TV broadcast, he said theres 'no magic solution' to the country's problems. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IRAQI PRIME MINISTER, ADEL ABDUL MAHDI, SAYING: 'I am reaffirming that your voice is heard before you even started protesting.

We have reached a clear understanding that your demands comprising of fighting corruption, providing employment opportunities, paying attention to the youth and reformations are rightful demands, your concerns that you are expressing are our first concern.'

But the country's most powerful religious leader says politicians are to blame.

In a statement read by his representative on Friday, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said on Friday that "Parliament holds the biggest responsibility for what is happening"... Urging the government to heed the protesters demands 'before it's too late'.

It's the worst unrest in Iraq since the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.

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