Iraqi officials said Wednesday that three protesters were killed and 35 wounded by security forces in southern Iraq after the previous day's sit-ins and road closures, raising the death toll to six people.
Two of the anti-government protesters were killed when security forces fired live ammunition to disperse crowds in the holy city of Karbala late Tuesday, security and medical officials said. One protester died of wounds suffered when a tear gas canister struck him in clashes earlier in the day. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Demonstrations had raged in Baghdad and across the mostly Shiite southern Iraq. The protesters accuse the Shiite-led government of being hopelessly corrupt and complain of poor public services and high unemployment. At least 350 people have been killed and thousands wounded since Iraq's protests started Oct. 1, in what has become the largest grassroots protest movement in Iraq's modern history.
Three simultaneous explosions rocked Baghdad late Tuesday, killing five people and wounding more than a dozen, Iraqi officials said, in the first apparent coordinated attack since anti-government protests erupted. The bombings took place far from Baghdad's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of weeks of anti-government protests that have posed the biggest security challenge to Iraq since the defeat of the Islamic State group.
Roads between Karbala and Baghdad were blocked by protesters Wednesday. Demonstrators have burned tires and cut access to main roads in several southern provinces in recent days.
In the southern city of Basra, protesters continued to cut roads to the main Gulf commodities port in Umm Qasr, reducing trade activity by 50%, according to port officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Protesters in Baghdad are occupying part of three key bridges _ Jumhuriya, Ahrar and Sinak _ in a standoff with security forces.