Protester shot dead in fresh Iraq violence
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Protester shot dead in fresh Iraq violence

Anti-government demonstrators and security forces renew clashes in Baghdad; meanwhile, Pompeo congratulates new Iraqi prime minister, reaffirms joint coordination

An anti-government protester holds an Iraqi flag during demonstrations in Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
An anti-government protester holds an Iraqi flag during demonstrations in Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

BAGHDAD (AP) — One protester was shot dead and at least six wounded in renewed violence between anti-government demonstrators and security forces in central Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi officials said.

Separately, Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi received a call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who congratulated him on his nomination and emphasized joint coordination between Iraq and the US as relations between the two countries soured after a Washington-directed attack January 3 near Baghdad airport killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

One protester was killed in Baghdad’s central Khilani Square Sunday evening and at least six were wounded when security forces fired live rounds to disperse crowds, Iraqi security and medical officials said. The clashes occurred near the Sinak bridge, which was recently reopened by security forces after protesters had blocked access for months.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Protesters continue to occupy central Tahrir square and adjacent Jumhuriyah bridge, which leads to the fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government.

Over 500 people have been killed under fire from security forces since mass anti-government protests erupted in the capital and Iraq’s south on October 1. Thousands of Iraqis, mostly young people, took to the streets to decry government corruption, poor services and unemployment.

In the call, Pompeo emphasized bilateral joint action and coordination, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office, at a time when US-Iraqi officials have seethed after the killing of Soleimani. After the strike, Iraqi lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution to pressure the government and oust US troops.

Allawi was elected prime minister-designate February 1 after months of negotiations between rival blocs. He is set to present a Cabinet for parliament’s approval Wednesday.

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