Death toll nears 100 as deadly Iraq protests spike

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BAGHDAD: The death toll from mass protests in Baghdad and cities across southern Iraq rose to 93 on Saturday as the unrest entered its fifth day, parliament’s human rights commission said.
Firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr called on the government to resign as violence spiked across the country and protesters clashed with police on the fourth day of deadly demonstrations against corruption and unemployment.
The former militia leader, whose bloc is the biggest in parliament, said in a statement that in order to avoid further deaths “the government should resign and early elections should be held under UN supervision”.
He said he could “not keep silent” as Iraqi blood was being shed.
The latest figures include 18 deaths registered at a single hospital in the capital.
Nearly 4,000 people have also been injured since the protests against chronic unemployment, poor public services and widespread corruption erupted in the capital on Tuesday, the commission said.
It was not immediately clear whether the latest deaths were from Friday’s huge protests or fresh demonstrations on Saturday.
The authorities have imposed a virtual blackout of the internet and confirmation of protest casualties in the provinces has trickled in slowly.
Friday saw chaotic scenes of protests in Baghdad and other cities with at least 10 people killed, including four – two police and two civilians – who security forces said were shot dead by “unidentified snipers”.