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Iraqi officials: 3 dead, dozens wounded in Baghdad protests

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live rounds during clashes with anti-government protesters overnight and on Monday morning in Baghdad, killing three and wounding dozens of demonstrators, officials said.

The clashes prompted authorities to close key streets and thoroughfares leading to the Iraqi capital’s center.

The violence is the latest since protests in Iraq reignited last week after a brief lull amid soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran following a U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad earlier this month.

Anti-government protests have similarly resumed in Lebanon after a brief hiatus, entering a new, violent phase as anger against a worsening economic crisis and politicians’ inaction mounts. Hundreds of people were injured over the weekend as security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes in downtown Beirut.

In Baghdad, the tear gas and live rounds were fired near Sinak Bridge and also the nearby Tayaran Square, which have been the scene of violence in recent days, medical and security officials said.

A gunshot wound killed one protester, while a second died after being struck in the head by a tear gas canister, medical officials said. A third later succumbed to his injuries, the officials said.

A statement from the Baghdad Operations Command said fourteen officers were wounded by a group of rock-throwing “inciters of violence “ while trying to secure the entrance to Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement.

Among the dead was Yousif Sattar, 21, a local journalist covering the protest movement, one medical official and an activist said.

“Despite these actions our forces continued to exercise restraint and follow up on the security duties assigned to them,” said the statement.

A security official said at least nine arrests have been made so far after the National Security Council authorized security forces to arrest demonstrators seen blocking main thoroughfares and roundabouts.

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