| 07.10,19. 05:22 AM |
Iraq protest death toll climbs to 108
Soldiers fired in the direction of about 300 anti-government protesters gathered in a suburb of the Iraqi capital on Sunday (local time). (AP)
Almost 100 anti-government protesters and eight members of the security forces have been killed during anti-government demonstrations in Baghdad and the south of Iraq.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said 6107 protesters and more than 1200 security personnel have been wounded in the unrest, which began six days ago.
Soldiers fired in the direction of about 300 anti-government protesters gathered in a suburb of the Iraqi capital on Sunday (local time).
The protests came after a bloody night in Baghdad, where 19 people were killed when security forces used live ammunition to break up the demonstrators.
Baghdad has been at the centre of protests that quickly spread to the country's south.
The protests began with demands for jobs and an end to corruption, and now include calls for justice for those killed in the protests.
Iraq's prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on protesters to end their street rallies, saying on Saturday that he was ready to meet with them to hear their demands.
He said there were orders for the security forces not to use live ammunition, only allowed in strict cases of self-defence.
Security forces have boosted their presence in central Baghdad, deploying as far as Sadr city, about 4km away from Tahrir Square.
The square, now sealed off, has been the centre of the protests since they erupted on Tuesday.
Army troops blocked a main road preventing the protesters from advancing.
Soldiers then fired towards the protesters in an apparent attempt push them back.
After about an hour, there was more intense gunfire as protesters persisted in trying to advance.
Responding to the gunfire, some protesters piled over one another trying to hide behind the short wall of a nearby water fountain.