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POST TIME: 15 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 November, 2019 12:09:37 AM
Tear gas, grenades kill Iraq protesters
AFP, Baghdad

Tear gas, grenades kill Iraq protesters

Iraqi demonstrators walk in front of a mural painting in the capital Baghdad's Tahrir square during ongoing anti-government demonstrations on Wednesday. AFP photo

Four protesters were killed by tear gas canisters in Baghdad yesterday as security forces try to snuff out the largest grassroots movement to sweep Iraq in years. Iraq’s political elite has come under renewed pressure in recent days from both the street and the international community to seriously address calls for sweeping reform.

There has been mounting international criticism of the authorities’ response to the protests, which have left more than 330 dead since October 1.

Early Thursday, four protesters were killed by tear gas canisters near the main Baghdad protest camp in Tahrir (Liberation) Square, medical sources told AFP.

Skirmishes broke out between security forces and protesters, with clusters of young men wearing surgical masks and construction helmets tossing tear gas canisters back at riot police stationed behind concrete blast walls.

The protesters have occupied the square for three weeks, braving live rounds, stun grenades and even machine gun fire.

Security forces have relied heavily on tear gas to confine protesters to Tahrir, but human rights groups have accused them of improperly firing the canisters directly into crowds at point-blank range, piercing protesters’ skulls and chests.

“Didn’t the marjaiyah (the Shiite religious leadership) say forces shouldn’t use live fire? Doesn’t this count as live fire?” one protester yelled angrily. Just beside him, a demonstrator was carried away after collapsing on the ground overcome by the potent tear gas.