Iraqi forces kill six protesters in Baghdad

Iraq’s main port reopens; 4 protesters killed in Baghdad | Tacoma News Tribune

In the southern city of Basra, where at least four people were killed as security forces cleared a sit-in on Thursday, another attempt was made to disperse hundreds of protesters near the local government headquarters, police said.The violent response from authorities has fuelled public anger. The bridge was a daily flashpoint for clashes between protesters seeking to enter the fortified Green Zone and security forces trying to stop them.

Protesters on Wednesday stormed a key bridge in central Baghdad and were repulsed by security forces using batons and tear gas.

The new stoppage of operations at Umm Qasr port in the south is likely to compound financial losses a day after the government said a weeklong halt of operations had cost more than $6bn.

Sistani, who outside of times of crisis maintains distance from politics and is considered a proponent of an independent Iraq, said protesters should avoid violence and it was the responsibility of security forces to maintain the peace. "We don't know who took them", he said.

A monthlong protest movement, driven by discontent over corruption and economic hardship, has morphed into calls for wholesale political change and the government to resign.

A first wave of rallies from October 1 to 6 had killed 157 people, according to an official probe, majority protesters shot dead in Baghdad. He also warned the protesters against being exploited by "internal and external forces" that had for decades had a role in harming Iraq.

Stipends for the poor, more job opportunities for graduates and pledges to punish a handful of corrupt officials have come too late for those demanding an overhaul of state institutions, a flawed electoral process and system of governance that has fuelled endemic corruption, many Iraqis say.

More news: Pompeo Works To Shrug Off Impeachment Inquiry As Kansas Senate Decision Looms

Iraq's youth unemployment is around 25% according to World Bank figures. But several dozen activists, relatives of a demonstrator killed during weeks of violence, then returned to block the main gate, port officials said.

The premier's position looked precarious when protests began: the two sponsors of his government seemed to agree on his ouster and parliament demanded he appear for questioning.

Moqtada Sadr, the populist cleric who had been the most vocal about the government's ouster, has gone silent amid reports he is in neighboring Iran.

In an apparent projection of normalcy, state television aired a recorded address by Abdul Mahdi to cabinet ministers on Thursday in which he discussed the 2020 budget.

He has proposed a series of reforms to appease protesters, including hiring drives, raising welfare and launching infrastructure projects.

On Friday, the country's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, said there should be "no more procrastination".

The Amnesty International report said that the security forces were deploying unusually heavy canisters, which were resulting in "horrific" injuries to protesters, especially when striking the head.

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