Iraqi police fired live shots into the air as well as rubber bullets and dozens of tear gas canisters Friday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters, sending young demonstrators running for cover and surrounding a main bridge in the capital Baghdad with thick white smoke.
42 protesters were killed and dozens were injured, security officials said.The confrontations began early in the morning after anti-government demonstrations resumed, following a three-week break.
The protests then spread to several, mainly Shiite-populated southern provinces and authorities imposed a curfew and shut down the internet for days in an effort to quell the unrest.
It also recommended the firing of security chiefs in Baghdad and the south. Eight members of the security forces were also killed.
The protests are similar to those that have engulfed Lebanon in recent days in that they are economically driven, largely leaderless and spontaneous against a sectarian-based system and a corrupt political class that has ruled for decades and driven the two countries to the edge of economic disaster.