1 dead as angry protesters clash with riot police in Iraq

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"One protester was killed and another wounded today in the demonstrations in the city of Diwaniyah, some 1150 km south of Baghdad," Sayf Badr, spokesperson of the Iraqi Health Ministry, told Xinhua.

Rasoul accused some "infiltrators" in the peaceful protests of using "knives, batons, stones and live ammunition against security forces in charge of protecting the demonstrators."

BAGHDAD, July 20 (Xinhua) -- A protester was killed and 41 protesters and security members were wounded Friday when hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Baghdad and southern Iraqi provinces demanding jobs and better basic services.

The demonstrators accused the influential political parties of being behind the widespread corruption that led to high rates of unemployment and failure in rehabilitation of the country's electricity, water and other basic services.

Badr said that 150 demonstrators and security members were wounded in clashes in the afternoon between the protesters and riot police in Tahrir Square in downtown Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the demonstrations continued in the city of Amara, the capital of Maysan province, and the holy Shiite city of Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad, in addition to the provinces of Wasit, Muthanna, Najaf and Qadsiya, according to the reports.

According to the state-run Iraqiya channel, four demonstrators have been killed and about 140 others wounded since the start of protests in southern Iraq until July 15, citing reports from the Iraqi Health Ministry.

Dozens of protesters tried to break the barrier of the riot police in an attempt to march to the Green Zone, but the riot police opened water cannons and used tear gas to disperse the crowd, who stoned the troops with bricks and water bottles.

Meanwhile, Abadi, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi forces, issued an order of high alert for the security forces in the central and southern provinces in response to the protests.

The measures included allocating 3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars (about 2.9 billion U.S. dollars) to carry out several major projects for public services, such as electricity and water facilities, in addition to providing thousands of jobs in the government institutions.

Other demonstrators set up sit-in tents in front of the provincial government building in protest against the deteriorated basic services, lack of jobs and widespread corruption, according to the reports.

Protesters take part in a rally in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 20, 2018. Hundreds of angry protesters took to the streets in Baghdad and southern Iraqi provinces on Friday demanding jobs and better basic services. (Xinhua/Khalil Dawood)

In Iraq's southern province of Dhi Qar, 10 more people, including six security members, were wounded in clashes with the riot police, when dozens of demonstrators tried to break into the house of the provincial governor in the city of Nasiriya, some 375 km south of Bagdad, Badr said.

Iraqi security forces intensified presence at the scene while the riot police blocked the nearby bridge to prevent the demonstrators from crossing the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the main government buildings and some foreign embassies.

On Tuesday, Iraq said that 262 security members have been wounded during the protests in the country's central and southern provinces.

The protests continued for almost two weeks despite a series of measures taken by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi aimed at quelling the street anger.

"We have a total of 262 security members wounded during the demonstrations, including six in critical conditions," said Yahya Rasoul, spokesperson of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.