Officials, activists say 2 Iraqi protesters killed

Officials, activists say 2 Iraqi protesters killed
Posters of protesters who have been killed in anti-government demonstrations and their belongings are displayed in Tahrir Square, in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Two protesters were killed and over a dozen wounded in central Baghdad on Friday in renewed violence between anti-government demonstrators and Iraqi security forces, activists and officials said. The deaths follow weeks of calm.

Riot police fired tear gas and hurled sound bombs to disperse crowds on the strategic Sinak Bridge after protesters attempted to breach cement barriers previously erected by security forces, causing the casualties, activists and medical and security officials said.

Two protesters were killed and at least 20 wounded, three activists and a security official said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Protesters are demanding sweeping reforms, new leadership and snap elections.

Friday’s violence breaks a period of calm after tensions soared between Tehran and Washington following a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. Both countries showed signs of de-escalation after Iran retaliated by attacking two military Iraqi bases hosting American troops without causing fatalities.

In an effort to bring back focus to the goals of the protest movement, anti-government protesters in the southern city of Nasiriyah gave the government a week’s deadline to take serious steps to implement changes. The deadline runs out early next week.