Iraqi police fired live shots into the air as well as rubber bullets and dozens of tear gas canisters Friday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters, sending young demonstrators running for cover and enveloping a main bridge in the capital Baghdad with thick white smoke.
42 protesters were killed and dozens were injured, security officials said.
The confrontations began early in the morning after anti-government demonstrations resumed, following a three-week hiatus.
The protests began 1 October over corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services but quickly turned deadly as security forces cracked down, using live ammunition for days.
The protests then spread to several, mainly Shiite-populated southern provinces and authorities imposed a curfew and shut down the internet for days in an effort to quell the unrest.
After a week of violence in the capital and the country’s southern provinces, a government-appointed inquiry into the protests determined that security forces had used excessive force, killing 149 people and wounding over 3,000.
It also recommended the firing of security chiefs in Baghdad and the south. Eight members of the security forces were also killed.
The protests are similar to those that have engulfed Lebanon in recent days in that they are economically driven, largely leaderless and spontaneous against a sectarian-based system and a corrupt political class that has ruled for decades and driven the two countries to the brink of economic disaster.