BAGHDAD (AP) — Anti-government protesters clashed with security forces on a second bridge leading to Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone on Thursday, killing at least one person and wounding more than 60 others.
Demonstrators have gathered in the Iraqi capital’s Tahrir Square since the protests resumed nearly a week ago, and have repeatedly clashed with security forces on the Joumhouriya Bridge. The clashes have now spread to the nearby Sanak Bridge, which also leads to the Green Zone, where the government is headquartered.
Security and medical officials confirmed the latest casualties. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters.
At least 250 people have been killed since demonstrations first erupted at the start of the month in Baghdad and across southern Iraq. Tens of thousands of demonstrators have joined the protests, calling for the overthrow of the government and sweeping reforms, and accusing their leaders of corruption and incompetence.
Iraq suffers from high unemployment and poor public services despite being an OPEC member with the world’s fourth largest proven oil reserves. The political system put in place after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion has given rise to an entrenched political class even though the country regularly holds elections.
Protesters have been joined by supporters of an influential Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who has called on the government to resign. The demonstrations have snowballed into the biggest security challenge Iraq has faced since it declared victory over the Islamic State group nearly two years ago.