BAGHDAD (AP) — At least two anti-government protesters were killed and 105 were wounded in clashes with security forces in Baghdad on Monday as thousands of students joined mass protests in defiance of a government order and tear gas.
The students skipped classes at several universities and secondary schools in Baghdad and across Iraq’s majority-Shiite south on Monday to take part in the protests, despite the government ordering schools and universities to operate normally. Seventeen students were among the wounded, but none were killed.
Authorities later announced a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. in the capital, as renewed protests there and across the Shiite south raged for a fourth day. A senior security official estimated that 25,000 protesters took part in the demonstration in the capital.
The demonstrations are fueled by anger at corruption, economic stagnation and poor public services. Later Monday, parliament voted to cancel all privileges and bonuses for the president, the prime minister, the Cabinet, parliament members and other senior officials. But that seemed unlikely to satisfy the protesters, who are calling for far more sweeping change.
“It’s a student revolution, no to the government, no to parties!” demonstrators chanted in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests. Protesters have camped out in the central roundabout and volunteers have brought them food, hoping to recreate the revolutionary atmosphere of similar rallies held across the region during and after the 2011 Arab Spring.
“We are protesting in solidarity with peaceful demonstrators against this corrupt government, the government that created divisions in Iraqi society and supported the rich at the expense of the poor,” said Sajad Ali, a high school student. “We demand the resignation of this government.”
Security forces have fired tear gas and stun grenades to keep protesters from crossing a main bridge leading to the Green Zone, home to government offices and embassies.
At least 72 protesters have been killed since nationwide anti-government protests resumed on Friday, after 149 were killed during an earlier wave of protests this month.
Iraqi security and medical officials confirmed the latest casualties on Monday. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.