Iraq imposes curfew, blocks internet -Several killed in nationwide anti-government protests

Iraq imposes curfew, blocks internet -Several killed in nationwide anti-government protests

At least nine people were killed in Iraq’s southern city of Nasiriya after nationwide anti-government protests devolved into violence that saw security forces fire live rounds and tear gas for a second straight day.

Thousands rallied in Baghdad, Nasiriya and other cities to protest at lack of jobs, poor services, and corruption.

Curfews have been imposed in Nasiriya and two other southern cites, Amara and Hilla.

Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, and other social and messaging apps have been blocked in Iraq by multiple internet providers.

Internet access has been cut across much of Iraq including Baghdad as of 17:00 UTC, following the earlier blocking of social media platforms.

As of 19:30 UTC Iraq has gone largely offline amid widening mass-protests, with the situation on the ground unclear due to blackouts.

The nationwide rallies are the largest display of public anger against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s year-old government.

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News agencies quoted medical and security sources as saying that the death toll over the past two days stood at nine.

“We want jobs and better public services. We’ve been demanding them for years and the government has never responded,” 27-year-old Abdallah Walid told AFP.

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In Baghdad, protesters also attempted to reach central Tahrir Square, which police had earlier sealed off along with a nearby bridge leading to the Green Zone, where government buildings and foreign embassies are located.

Last year, the southern Iraqi city of Basra was rocked by weeks of protests over unsafe drinking water, power shortages, unemployment, and corruption.