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UPDATE 3 - Anti-government protests grow in Iraq

UPDATE 3 - Anti-government protests grow in Iraq
Iraqi National Security Council holds emergency session to address growing protests

UPDATES WITH FIRES IN DHI QAR, NAJAF, NATIONWIDE INTERNET BLACKOUT; REVISED DECK

By Naza Mohammed

BAGHDAD (AA) - Anti-government protestors took to the streets on Wednesday across Iraq, including the capital Baghdad, demanding improved living conditions and an end to what they call government corruption.

Women also took part in the second day of protests, with security forces on high alert, locking down several squares and streets in Baghdad.

The country's National Security Council held an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to discuss how to address the protests.

A Health Ministry official in the country's southern province of Dhi Qar told Anadolu Agency that at least four demonstrators were killed there.

The source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media, added that a policeman was also killed in the same province.

Wednesday's casualties bring the number of deaths since the eruption of protests on Tuesday to 10, including a policeman, along with dozens of injuries.

**A security source told Anadolu Agency that protestors set fire to multiple government buildings in the Dhi Qar and Najaf provinces.

**In a related development, protestors and civil activists interviewed by Anadolu Agency said Baghdad had partially suspended internet services in the country.

**While the government has yet to comment on these claims, Hassan Rahm, a civil activist and demonstrator from Baghdad, said: "Internet service was cut sporadically this afternoon, which forced us to use programs to break the blockage."

**Hassanein Monshid, a protestor from the southern Maysan province, told Anadolu Agency: "During the day, we faced a complete internet cutoff in Maysan, and it was partially cut at other times."

The UN representative in Iraq, for his part, called on Iraqi authorities to exercise restraint.

Successive Iraqi governments have failed to put an end to alleged nepotism and corruption as the current government struggles to end mismanagement of public funds.

According to World Bank figures, youth unemployment in Iraq has reached around 25%. The country is also ranked the 12th-most corrupt country in the world by several transparency organizations.

source: News Feed
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