Iraqi security forces fire tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters who set fires and close a street during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. The spontaneous protests which started Tuesday in Baghdad and southern cities were sparked by endemic corruption and lack of jobs. Security forces responded with a harsh crackdown, with dozens killed. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

The Latest: Iraqi soldiers fire in direction of protesters

October 06, 2019 - 7:41 am

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on anti-government protests in Iraq (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Army soldiers have fired in the direction of about 300 anti-government protesters who gathered in a suburb in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on the sixth day of unrest that has left more than 80 peoople dead.

The protesters, mostly young men, were scattered in side streets near Sadr City on Sunday afternoon. Troops blocked the main road preventing them from advancing and fired above the protesters' heads. Ducking, the protesters piled over one another taking cover behind a short wall. The protests come despite calls from Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi for the demonstrators to stay off the streets.

Over the last few days, security forces have deployed in large numbers in central Baghdad, pushing protesters away from Tahrir Square. The square was a gathering point when protests first erupted (backslash)Tuesday.

Since then, rallies spread to southern cities, sparking a heavy crackdown from security forces that left at least 84 killed, mostly in Baghdad


1:15 p.m.

Calm has prevailed in the Iraqi capital following a bloody night when at least 19 people were killed as security forces opened fire to break up anti-government protests.

Students made it to schools at the start of the working week early Sunday and government employees returned to work. But the capital's streets were mostly quiet and traffic thin. Burnt tires and debris littered thoroughfares while security remained heavily deployed in many neighborhoods.

Armored vehicles blocked access to Tahrir square from as far as four kilometers (2.5 miles.) Protesters have been trying to converge on the central square.

At least 84 protesters were killed, most of them in Baghdad, since Tuesday when demonstrators initiated rallies to demand jobs, improvements to services and an end to corruption in the oil-rich nation.