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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Dozens of demonstrators were killed across Iraq on Thursday and Friday as violent protests against government corruption swelled into a mass spontaneous uprising sweeping much of the country, the worst unrest since the defeat of Islamic State.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called for calm but protesters scorned his promises of political reform. The country’s most influential cleric pinned the blame for the violence on politicians who had failed to improve the lives of the public, and ordered them to meet the protesters’ demands.
Cleric - Opposition - Faction - Lawmakers - Parliament
Another politically powerful cleric pulled his opposition faction’s lawmakers out of parliament, a gesture certain to fuel the passions behind the unrest.
On the streets of Baghdad, Reuters reporters saw one protester fall to the ground after being shot in the head. He was pronounced dead at hospital. Elsewhere, a Reuters television crew saw a man critically wounded by a gunshot to the neck after snipers on rooftops opened fire at a crowd.
Explainer - Iraq
Explainer: Deadly civil unrest - what is happening in Iraq?
The violence comes two years after Iraq put down the insurgency by the Sunni Muslim armed group Islamic State. The protests arose in the south, heartland of the Shi’ite majority, but has quickly spread, with no formal leadership from any organized political or sectarian movement.
Security - Sources - Death - Toll - Friday
Security and medical sources gave a death toll early on Friday of 46 killed in three days of unrest, the vast majority of the deaths in the last 24 hours as the violence accelerated.
“It is sorrowful that there have been so many deaths, casualties and destruction,” Iraq’s most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said in a letter read out by his representative during a sermon.
Government - Sides - Demands - People - Corruption
“The government and political sides have not answered the demands of the people to fight corruption or achieved anything on the ground,” said Sistani, who stays...
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