Iraq Protests

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Iraq declared a curfew in Baghdad on Monday as two people were killed and 112 injured in the fourth day of anti-government protests, and the coalition government’s most powerful erstwhile supporter called for early elections. Baghdad’s top military commander imposed the curfew from midnight (2100 GMT) until 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) effective “until further notice,” state television said, but protesters in the capital’s central Tahrir Square remained defiant. The curfew provides cover for security forces to clear the square, demonstrators said, but they intended on going nowhere. “No, we will stay. They have now declared a curfew and severe punishments for anyone not going to work, this is how they fight us. We will stay here until the last day, even if there are a thousand martyrs,” one protester said. The unrest, driven by discontent over economic hardship and deep-seated corruption, has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq, which from 2003 to 2017 endured a foreign occupation, civil war and an Islamic State insurgency. Counting Monday’s deaths, which security and medical sources said resulted from security forces launching tear gas canisters directly at the heads of protesters, some 233 people have been killed overall in the disturbances this month. Security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and joined thousands in Baghdad protesting against his government. A spokesman for the premier, whose position is increasingly precarious in the face of the stiffest challenge…

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