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Four Protesters Killed In Fresh Unrest In Iraq

An Iraqi protester holds a tear-gas canister that was fired by riot police during a demonstration at Al-Khilani square in Baghdad on November 10.

Four Iraqi protesters have been killed and some 130 wounded in renewed overnight clashes between security forces and demonstrators in the southern city of Nasiriyah, a rights group said.

The casualties occurred during confrontations outside the education directorate as security forces used tear gas against protesters.

The semiofficial Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, which reported the toll, called the violence "regrettable" and added that some of the wounded were in serious conditions.

Meanwhile, the top UN envoy to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, on November 11 met with Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf to discuss the series of reforms put forward by the United Nations a day earlier.

At least 320 protesters have been killed by security forces since the protests and unrest over corruption and worsening living conditions began last month.

Sistani said he "supports the conduct of serious reforms in a reasonable period of time," Hennis-Plasschaert said, but added that the cleric voiced "concerns that the political forces are not serious enough to carry out these reforms."

The demonstrators complain of widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities, and poor basic services, including regular power cuts.

Iraq has a population of nearly 40 million people and is the world's fifth-largest oil producer and exporter, but overall poverty rates are estimated at above 20 percent of the population.

Youth unemployment stands at 25 percent, twice the overall rate, in the country.

Based on reporting by AP