BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Security forces killed two protesters and wounded 35 others in Baghdad on Thursday, police and medical sources said, as thousands of Iraqis continued a wave of anti-government protests.
One protester died immediately after a tear gas canister hit his head and another died in hospital from wounds from a stun bomb fired by security forces, the sources said.
Security forces used live fire, rubber bullets and shot tear gas canisters in a bid to disperse hundreds of protesters gathered near Tahrir Square, a Reuters cameraman said.
Most of those hurt had choked on tear gas or had been hit by rubber bullets and were taken to hospital, medical sources said.
Protesters said the security forces had stepped up their firing of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets early on Thursday morning.
More than 300 people have been killed since Oct. 1, as security forces have fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at crowds of protesters.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government has taken some measures to try to quell the unrest, including handouts to the poor and creating more job opportunities for college graduates.
But it has failed to keep up with the growing demands of demonstrators who are now calling for an overhaul of Iraq’s sectarian political system and the departure of its entire ruling elite.
The unrest is among the biggest and most complex challenges to the current ruling elite since it took power after the U.S. invasion and the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Reporting by Baghdad newsroom; Editing by Gareth Jones