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Tear gas and shots were fired on Saturday at anti-corruption demonstrators trying to reach Baghdad’s Green Zone.
At least seven people died in clashes between Iraqi police and protesters seeking to reach the ultra-secure compound that houses government offices and embassies.
Police say two members of the security forces and five demonstrators were killed, with over 200 injuries reported.
“We demand a change of government,” said one protester, Ali al-Saddi.
“We want patriotic people to replace them and start rebuilding Iraq. The elections were manipulated and a sham. Every four years we have the same people. We want honest people.”
Protesters in #Baghdad continue to chant “Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful” despite tear-gas and live fire from security forces. pic.twitter.com/bkXXMcMENt— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) February 11, 2017
#UPDATE Seven killed as Baghdad electoral reform protest turns violent https://t.co/RjHIreU8CR #Baghdad #alSadr— AFP news agency (@AFP) 11 février 2017
The protesters, mainly supporters of prominent Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, want a commision supervising elections to be overhauled ahead of a provincial vote in September.
Rampant corruption in Iraq comes as the country battles to defeat ISIL militants in a US-backed campaign discussed in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s first phone call with President Trump last week.
The White House said that both leaders also “spoke to the threat Iran presents across the entire region”.
Iraq said Abadi also asked Trump to lift the ban on people from his country travelling to the US – although American courts have now suspended those restrictions.
PM Al-Abadi speaks with @POTUS who assures continued support for liberation operations and efforts to resolve visa entry issues for Iraqis pic.twitter.com/K7aHtSFef3— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) February 9, 2017