At least 13 killed as Iraq resumes live gunfire against protesters

More than 250 people have been killed and thousands of others wounded since Iraq's ongoing protests erupted in early October

More than 250 people have been killed and thousands of others wounded since Iraq's ongoing protests erupted in early October

Overnight, security forces killed two more people and wounded 12 in Shatra, security and medical sources said. More than 250 people have been killed in the security crackdown this month. They were met with live ammunition by Iraqi security forces. Video showed dozens of protesters running on a road near the port with gunfire crackling in the distance.

Amnesty International has accused Iraqi forces of using two types of military-grade tear gas canisters that have pierced protesters' skulls and lungs. The process of forming a new government in either country would take months, and without fundamental change would leave the same political factions in power.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of one of Iraq's most powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militias, said in an interview aired on Iraqi TV that the U.S., Israel, some Arab Gulf nations and local officials were working to "incite strife and chaos" in Iraq. The protests are calling for an overhaul of the political system established after the 2003 US -led invasion, accusing the government and major political parties of corruption and incompetence.

The anger over economic hardship and corruption is aimed at the sectarian power-sharing system of governance introduced in Iraq after 2003 and the political elites benefiting from it.

After eight people were killed during the day on Monday, security forces shot dead at least five others overnight or early on Tuesday, including one killed with live fire at a funeral procession for another who had died hours earlier.

They witnesses spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

In a statement, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called for markets, factories, schools and universities to reopen after days of protests in the capital and across the mostly Shiite south.

That pressure intensified with the arrival of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations arm, shortly after the protests began. The protesters set tires and dumpsters ablaze within 500 metres (yards) of the prime minister's office, sending huge clouds of black smoke into the sky. It said the internet was partially restored early Tuesday, but that "some networks are still offline and social media and messaging apps remain blocked or degraded".

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Cyber security NGO NetBlocks said Tuesday's blackout was "the most severe telecommunication restriction" imposed by Iraqi authorities since October 1.

"Now is the time for life to go back to normal", Abdel Mahdi, 77, said in a statement, insisting that numerous protesters' demands "have already been satisfied".

"Threatening the oil interests and blocking roads leading to Iraq's ports is causing big losses exceeding billions of dollars", he said.

The live rounds were said to have been fired close to the offices of the Iraq state broadcaster after protesters crossed the Al-Ahrar bridge over the Tigris River.

Iraqi analyst Issam Faili said the divisions would continue to hamstring any "independent decision-making". "Violence against them is unacceptable".

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iraq's government should listen to the protesters' "legitimate demands".

Adel Abdel Mahdi, 77, came to power a year ago as the product of a tenuous alliance between populist cleric Moqtada Sadr and pro-Iran paramilitary chief Hadi al-Ameri, with the required blessing of Iraq's Shiite religious leadership.

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