Iraq protests death toll hits 60 as protesters hit with tear gas in clashes

Sixty people have been killed and dozens more wounded amid angry protests in Iraq.

Demonstrators and security forces have clashed in a second day of protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's government.

Today's widespread unrest in the capital Baghdad saw eight people killed, and follows violence yesterday where 52 people die around the country.

Security forces lobbed tear gas to try to disperse demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

Four were killed after being struck directly in the head by tear gas canisters, police and hospital sources told Reuters.

Two people were in critical condition from similar injuries.

Four protesters were killed and 17 people were wounded amid chaos in the southern city of Nasiriya, where demonstrators came out in their thousands despite the heavy presence of security forces.

The deaths occurred when a group of protesters broke off from thousands gathered in central Nasiriya to storm the house of a local security official, police said.

Guards opened fire after the protesters torched the building, according to police.

Earlier in October, 157 people were killed and more than 6,000 wounded in other clashes between protesters and security forces.

The unrest has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq, which from 2003 to 2017 went through a foreign occupation, civil war and an Islamic State (ISIS) insurgency.

Silwan Ali, 33, said:  "The (political) parties today after 16 years have only robbed and plundered.

"Our protests are peaceful, we only have flags and water bottles, but they keep firing bombs at us, firing tear gas at us; what have we done to deserve this? What have we done? The young men who died, what did they do?".

Iraq's military and Ministry of Interior signalled in statements that they planned to respond more firmly to protests on Saturday.

In Baghdad protesters distributed masks and homemade remedies to protect themselves from the tear gas. Others handed out food and water.

Most of those killed on Friday were protesters in cities in the south.

Eight others were killed in Baghdad, most after being struck by tear gas canisters.

On Friday, demonstrators focused their anger on politicians and Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia groups.

Members of the powerful Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) militia turned their guns on protesters in both Nasiriya and Amara, leaving scores dead.

AAH also clashed with another powerful militia, one loyal to populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Despite a curfew and federal anti-riot forces dispatched from Baghdad, thousands gathered across cities in the south.

Protesters continued to torch the offices of all major political parties, militia groups, and local government buildings.

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