At least two people have been killed and 200 others wounded in clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters in Baghdad and the southern city of Nasiriyah, officials say.
Hundreds of protesters gathered on the Iraqi capital’s main Tahrir Square on October 1 to protest against state corruption, unemployment, and poor public services, including rampant power cuts and water shortages.
Some carried portraits of a popular army commander, Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, whose recent dismissal from the post of Iraq's Counterterrorism Service sparked controversy.
Reports said riot police used tear gas, water cannons, and live rounds to disperse the crowd when some protesters tried to cross the bridge to reach the fortified Green Zone -- home to government offices and foreign embassies. Some demonstrators responded by throwing stones at officers.
The Health Ministry said one person was killed and 200 wounded in the violence. Those wounded included 160 civilians and 40 members of the security forces.
Officials said one protester was also killed and around 20 others injured in the city of Nasiriyah, about 320 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, after a similar demonstration turned violent.
The government blamed "groups of riot inciters" for the violence.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, who came to power a year ago, on October 1 issued a statement promising jobs for graduates.
He also instructed government bodies to start including a 50 percent quota for local workers in subsequent contracts with foreign companies.
Protests across Iraq over the past months have left scores of people injured.
Two Dead, Scores Wounded As Iraqi Police Clash With Protesters