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Gunshots, tear gas & water cannons: Clashes between protesters and police erupt in Baghdad, several people injured (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Gunshots, tear gas & water cannons: Clashes between protesters and police erupt in Baghdad, several people injured (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Several thousand Iraqis were protesting against unemployment and corruption in Baghdad. The rally turned chaotic as demonstrators tried to enter the government quarter, triggering a police response.

Around 3,000 people gathered in the center of the Iraqi capital on Tuesday, demanding improvement in the economic situation, and protesting widespread youth unemployment and alleged high-profile corruption cases.

The demonstrators tried to enter the ‘Green Zone’ – a fortified quarter with restricted access, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies. Police responded with force to disperse the crowds.

Footage from the scene shows police using water cannons and stun grenades, with clouds of tear gas covering the streets. The protesters set various objects on fire and pelted police with projectiles.

Law enforcement was seen shooting guns into the air to warn protesters to stay away from the Green Zone.

Several people received injuries, including what appeared to be gunshot wounds. It was not immediately clear whether the protesters were hit by police fire, and whether the officers used live or rubber ammunition.

Mass protests leading to widespread violence have occurred on a regular basis since 2015. In April 2016, demonstrators managed to enter the Green Zone and ultimately occupy the parliament building.

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Two decades of war – the US invasion, years of sectarian violence, and the emergence of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) – have taken a heavy toll on the economy and infrastructure of the nation, leaving many people lacking the most basic services, such as access to water. General political instability, the emergence of various militias formed to supposedly fight the terrorists, as well as rumored high-profile corruption, have also become pretexts for the protests.

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