Six killed as police open fire on Basra protesters
Six demonstrators protesting poor economic conditions and the dire state of public services in Iraq's southern city of Basra were killed by live police ammunition on Tuesday.
The head of the government's human rights council in Basra, Mehdi al-Tamimi, said security forces "directly opened fire on protesters".
During the protests, some people in the crowd hurled Molotov cocktails and fireworks at the government building, while security forces responded with tear gas and by firing shots into the air.
Around 15 members of the security forces were injured in the clashes, medical sources said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said an investigation had been launched into the death of another protester the day before.
Addressing his weekly press conference in the capital Baghdad, Abadi reasserted he had ordered "no real bullets are to be fired, in the direction of protesters or in the air".
Mekki Yasser Ashur died after being shot during protests, his family said on Tuesday during his funeral march.
Police and military cordons had been put in place, blocking numerous roads, while Basra's hospitals were filled with protesters bringing in people wounded by police.
The government has also already announced an emergency plan in response to the protests, promising billions of dollars in investment for southern Iraq.
But protesters are wary of such pledges from the outgoing administration, as Iraqi lawmakers are in the process of forming a new government after May's election.
The oil-rich southern city has been plagued by power cuts and poor government services, leading to demonstrations over the past year.
Iraq's government has tried to appease the angry protesters by introducing a number of measures, including sacking the electricity minister.
At least 21 people have been killed in protests across Iraq since July.
Agencies contributed to this report.