Seven protesters were killed and tens were injured Thursday when Iraqi security forces shot live fire and tear gas canisters at them in Baghdad as part of their continuous efforts to disperse anti-government demonstrations.
The security developments came amid parliamentary calls to question Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Reuters quoted police and hospital sources as saying the cause of death was live fire and tear gas canisters aimed directly at the head, adding that at least 78 people were wounded in the unrest.
They said two critically wounded protesters died in hospital later, one from wounds caused by live fire shots to the head and the other struck in the head by tear gas canister.
Hospital sources said some of the wounded protesters had injuries sustained from live ammunition and others were wounded by rubber bullets and tears gas canisters.
At least 325 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Rights groups have slammed security forces for firing the military-grade gas grenades directly at protesters instead of into the air.
Sources told AFP that in the southern hotspots of Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, Hilla and Kut, schools and most government offices were closed on Thursday.
And while hit-and-run continues between protesters and security officers around the vital bridges in Baghdad, the political crisis is still at a stalemate due to the lack of trust between most political forces and the Iraqi street.
In this regard, head of the Nasr Coalition, former Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi criticized Thursday Iraqi authorities for continuing to quell demonstrators across the country.
Abadi told reporters that he severely opposes the government of Abdul Mahdi because “it kills protesters.”
The former PM also asserted that his parliamentary team “insists on the question the government and to call for early parliamentary elections.”
For his part, head of the National Wisdom Movement Ammar al-Hakim renewed the call for public trials of the heads of large corruption and the return of money to the state treasury, with the commitment of political forces to the reform document signed by them and the three state authorities to invest this opportunity and work to implement its provisions within the specified time period.