Clashes in Iraq result in at least 27 killed, 152 injured , Iraqi officials say 27 protesters have been shot dead in the last 24 hours, amid spiraling violence in Baghdad and southern Iraq.
Protesters kept up sit-ins in Kut, Amara and Hilla, all south of the capital, despite an increased security presence.
In the oil-rich port city of Basra, most government offices reopened but schools remained closed as security forces deployed in the streets.
Iraq is OPEC’s second-largest crude producer and the oil exported through Basra’s offshore terminals funds more than 90 percent of the government’s budget.
Protesters have accused the ruling elite of embezzling state funds that are desperately needed to restore failing public services and fix schools.
Corruption is rampant in Iraq, ranked the world’s 12th most graft-ridden country by Transparency International.
The World Bank says one in five Iraqis lives in poverty and youth unemployment stands at 25 percent.