At least two people were killed and 200 wounded in an anti-government demonstrations in Baghdad and several other cities.
Thousands of people, including university graduates, took to the streets of the capital city of Iraq and other cities to protest against unemployment, corruption and poor services.
The demonstrations were organized on social media and began with a peaceful gathering of some 1,000 people, who marched into Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square.
But things took a turn when police employed water cannon, and hurled stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
In the main protest in Baghdad, demonstrators clashed with security forces who used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to disperse those protesting.
In a statement, the government’s media unit cited the health ministry as saying that one protester was killed in Baghdad, while 200 people, including 40 members of the security forces, were wounded.
Many of those injured were later released from hospital, with 50 people remaining to receive medical treatment, the statement said.
The government blamed “groups of riot inciters” for the violence and said the security forces were working to ensure the safety of peaceful protesters.
Separately, news agencies quoted hospital officials and police sources as saying that one protester was killed and around 20 others were wounded during anti-government demonstrations in Nasiriyah, about 320km (200 miles) southeast of Baghdad, that turned the violent.
Mustafa Saadoon, director of the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, accused anti-riot police in Baghdad of using “excessive force and tear gas against the protesters that resulted in the death of three protesters and the wounding of more than 250”.
The number of people killed and wounded could not be independently verified.