1 killed, 200 wounded in anti-gov't protests in Iraq

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BAGHDAD– Iraqi authorities on Tuesday said that a protester was killed and 200 others were wounded in anti-government protests across the country against lack of basic services and job opportunities.

The ministries of interior and health said in a joint statement that the government "regrets the violence that accompanied these protests, which were provoked by a group of rioters aiming at bringing down the true content of those demands and stripping the demonstrations of the peacefulness." One protester was killed and 200 others were wounded, including 40 security members, the statement said.

"We stand in solidarity with the principle of freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution, and we call on all citizens to calm down and restraint, and we affirm that the security services will continue to do their duties to ensure the safety and security of the demonstrators," it said.

Most of the wounded had left hospitals after receiving first aid treatment, while the remaining 50 wounded still received care at the hospitals, the statement added.

Earlier in the afternoon, hundreds of Iraqi protesters gathered on the central Tahrir Square in Baghdad to express anger at the absence of improvement in basic services, including lack of electricity, clean water, and job opportunities. One protester was killed as security forces and riot police fired tear gas, water cannons and live ammunition in attempt to disperse the protesters, who threw stones and empty bottles of water at them.

The protesters burned tires and blocked nearby streets, while security forces continued to block access to the al-Jumhuriya bridge that links the square to the once heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses most government offices, the parliament building and some foreign embassies.

Similar demonstrations took place in other Iraqi cities, including Basra, Najaf and al-Diwaniyah, where protesters demanded for better basic services, job opportunities and holding government officials accountable for corruption.

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