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Death Toll Climbs to 42 in Friday’s Iraq Protests

Death Toll Climbs to 42 in Friday’s Iraq Protests

Saturday, 26 October, 2019 - 09:45
Iraqi protesters burn items to block a road during clashes with security forces following an anti-government demonstration in Karbala, south of Iraq's capital Baghdad, on October 25, 2019. AFP

The death toll from protests in Iraq has climbed to 42 after a senior government official in the country's south said 12 protesters died in a fire they started while storming the office of an armed faction during a rally there a day earlier.

The anti-government protests erupted Friday after leaderless, spontaneous revolts were violently quelled earlier this month.

The southern official said that in Diwaniyah town, bodies were being removed on Saturday from a building belonging to the Iran-backed Badr Organization where the protesters set it on fire on Friday.

In the capital, Baghdad, protesters gathered again on Saturday in the central Tahrir Square. Iraqi security forces fired tear gas to clear them.

The sometimes violent demonstrations erupted in Baghdad on Oct. 1 and spread to southern cities.

They pose the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi since he took office just a year ago. Despite promising reforms and ordering a broad cabinet reshuffle, he has so far struggled to address the protesters' discontent.

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