Clashes in Iraq result in at least 27 killed, 152 injured

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.

Another 152 others have been injured in clashes in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on Thursday, according to our reporters sources.

Protesters have taken control of al-Nasr and al-Zaytoun bridges in the city.

Meanwhile, AFP and local media put the death toll up from eight to 13 at Thursday 11:00 a.m. local time.

A curfew has been opposed in response to the clashes, said local officials. Nationally, the government announced it is setting up military-led ‘crisis cells’ aimed at quelling mass unrest according to a military statement on Thursday.

The province of Dhi Qar, which Nasiriyah is the capital of, has been one of the centers of the ongoing protests in Iraq.

Elsewhere in the country, protesters blocked roads connecting Baghdad to Diyala province. our sources also reported clashes in Samawah, in Muthanna province north of Nasiriyah.

The clashes between security forces and protesters come the night after anti-government protesters burned down the Iranian consulate building in Najaf on Wednesday night. Baghdad and Tehan both condemned the attack on Thursday morning.

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.

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