Baghdad: As many as 13 people were killed and 70 others injured in firing in Iraq amid a fresh wave of protests in the southern city of Nasiriya on Thursday.
Security forces opened fire and used tear gas to clear two bridges blocked by protesters. The agitating Iraqis have been demanding more jobs, end to corruption and better public services.
The Iraqi military announced setting up of military “crisis cells” to quell unrest and restore order.
“On the orders of the commander in chief of the armed forces Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, some military commanders have been appointed to this unit to direct and control security and military forces and assist the governors in their mission,” it said in a statement.
Sources told the BBC, demonstrators in Nasiriya were now “in control” of the situation in the city and were “chasing the police in the streets and alleys.”
Anti-government protests are directed mainly against the political leaders.
But many of those taking part in protests also expressed anger at Iran’s growing influence in Iraq’s internal affairs, which has been steadily rising since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
On Wednesday, the Iranian consulate in the city of Najaf was attacked.
Protesters accuse Iran of complicity in what they see as Iraq’s governance failure and corruption.