Renewed violence in Iraq kills six

BAGHDAD: Six people were killed in the Iraqi capital and a southern city on Saturday, officials said, pushing the overall death toll in this month’s anti-government protests to more than 200.
Three protesters were killed in Baghdad and another three people died in the southern city of Nasiriyah, according to Ali Bayati of the Iraqi Human Rights Commission.
Those in Nasiriyah were shot dead while torching a local official’s home, a police source said.
A parliamentary session scheduled for Saturday afternoon to discuss the renewed protests was cancelled after it failed to reach a quorum.
Since anti-government rallies first erupted on October 1, nearly 200 people have died and thousands were wounded in Baghdad and across the country’s south in violence condemned worldwide.
Almost a quarter of them, 42, succumbed on Friday alone from live rounds, tear gas canisters or while torching government buildings or offices belonging to powerful Hashed al Shaabi paramilitary factions in several southern cities.
Tensions remained high across several cities there on Saturday, with security forces cutting off roads and imposing strict curfews.
The storming of provincial headquarters, parliamentarians’ workspaces or Hashed offices marks a new phase in the southern rallies but there have been no such incidents so far in the capital.
In Baghdad, a few hundred protesters dug in around the emblematic Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Saturday morning despite efforts by riot police to clear them with tear gas.
“It’s enough — theft, looting, gangs, mafias, deep state, whatever. Get out! Let us see a (functioning) state,” said one protester, referring to perceived cronyism and corruption in the country.
“We don’t want anything, just let us live,” he added as puffs of smoke from tear gas rose behind him.
Oil-rich Iraq is OPEC’s second-highest producer — but one in five people live below the poverty line and youth unemployment sits at 25 per cent, according to the World Bank. — AFP