Iraq: 30 demonstrators wounded in protests in central Baghdad

Government forces clashed with protesters in Al Khilani Square in the heart of the country’s capital

Anti-government protesters gather during ongoing protests in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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At least 30 demonstrators in Iraq were injured on Monday evening in central Baghdad.

Government forces clashed with protesters in Al Khilani Square in the city centre, local media reported.

Many of those hurt are thought to be in a critical condition after government forces fired bullets and hunting rifle cartridges, at the crowds, as well as smoke bombs, in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators.

Protests have swept the country since October last year and authorities have responded in full force, killing more than 600 people, Amnesty International reported.

Demonstrators are calling for the removal of a ruling political elite and a country free from interference from foreign governments, mainly Iran and the United States.

But the six-month-old movement has faced one setback after another, from the shifting positions of a mercurial Shiite cleric to an apathetic political class.

Now, Iraqis fear the coronavirus sweeping the world.

The country’s decrepit health system has struggled to contain the outbreak, with nine deaths and almost 93 cases confirmed.

Last week, Iraqi protesters condemned attacks this month in the country, describing them as part of a war between Iran and America, with Iraq caught in the middle.

The US launched airstrikes last Thursday aimed at Iranian-backed Shiite militia members. It holds them responsible for the rocket attack that killed and wounded American and British troops at a base north of Baghdad, the Pentagon said.