Anti-government protesters have taken to the streets of Iraq’s capital and other cities following the funerals of two people killed during clashes with security forces the night before.
The two protesters were killed late on Sunday in central Baghdad during renewed demonstrations against corruption, unemployment and poor public services, including a lack of electricity, as the country reels under a major heatwave.
The deaths were the first during anti-government demonstrations since new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was sworn into office in May.
On Monday, clashes between protesters and security forces broke out again in Baghdad and other cities.
In the capital, security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protesters who threw stone and petrol bombs, according to reports.
Later on Monday, al-Kadhimi said in a televised speech that the protests were “a legitimate right and the security forces do not have the permission to fire even one bullet in the direction of the protesters”.
He said he had opened an investigation and demanded results within 72 hours.
Military spokesman Yehia Rasool said in a statement that security forces had been given strict instructions not to use force against protesters unless necessary.
Iraq’s biggest anti-government protests in decades broke out last October and continued for several months, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis demanding jobs, services and the removal of the ruling elite, which they said was corrupt. Some 500 people were killed.
The protests caused the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who was replaced in May by al-Kadhimi, a former intelligence chief.