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Iraq protests continue despite rising death toll

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Protesters are continuing in Iraq despite a growing death toll, with at least 15 people killed since Monday, after security forces used live ammunition to disperse crowds.


Eight people were shot dead on Monday with a further five killed on Tuesday, including one who was fired upon during the funeral of another victim who had died hours earlier.


A protester was killed as authorities opened fire on a sit-down blockade of the main Gulf port of Umm Qasr, south of the oil city of Basra.


Officials had imposed a curfew from 10pm in Basra to disperse the demonstration and warned that they would use force if necessary.


More than 260 people have been killed since the anti-government protests began last month in Baghdad and several southern cities.


Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi offered to resign once a replacement is found. But demonstrations are calling for fresh elections and a new type of government.


United Nations envoy for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert condemned the violence and called for talks in a bid to resolve the deepening crisis.


“Appalled by continued bloodshed in Iraq,” she wrote in a Twitter post. “Violence only begets violence, peaceful demonstrators must be protected. It is high time for national dialogue.”

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