Gunfire, tear gas during Baghdad clashes

Iraq protesters have thrown petrol bombs and stones at security forces, who responded with tear gas.
Iraq protesters have thrown petrol bombs and stones at security forces, who responded with tear gas.

Iraqi security forces have fired tear gas and live bullets in renewed clashes with protesters in Baghdad and other cities following a push to clear sit-in camps across the country.

Demonstrators are demanding the removal of what they see as a corrupt ruling elite and an end to foreign interference in domestic politics, especially by Iran.

Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for demonstrations against the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday and in other cities.

This followed a large march on Friday in which tens of thousands protested against the US military presence in Iraq.

Protesters on Sunday threw petrol bombs and stones at security forces, who responded by firing tear gas canisters and live rounds into the air.

The authorities' latest attempt to push back protesters and restore order came after Sadr, who has millions of supporters in Baghdad and the south, said on Saturday he would end his involvement in anti-government unrest.

A protester in Baghdad, who declined to give his name, said Sadr's withdrawal from the cause made no difference.

"We protest because we have a cause, I don't think Moqtada Sadr or any other politician will change our mind," he said.

Sadr's supporters had bolstered the protesters and sometimes helped shield them from attacks by security forces and unidentified gunmen, but began withdrawing from sit-in camps on Saturday following his announcement.

At least 14 protesters were injured in the clashes in the capital, security and medical sources said.

Clashes with security forces in the southern city of Nassiriya left at least 17 protesters wounded, four of them from live bullets, police and medical sources said.

In the southern city of Basra, more than 2000 students from different universities pooled into the protest camp, another Reuters witness said.

Protests also continued in the cities of Kerbala, Najaf, and Diwaniya in defiance to attempts by security forces to end their months-long sit-in, police sources and Reuters witnesses said.

Australian Associated Press