Death toll soars to 60 in anti-government protests in Iraq

The Iraqi Human Rights Commission yesterday said the previous toll was 44. The latest figures include 18 deaths registered at a single hospital in the capital Baghdad. With more than 1,600 people wounded, the toll may rise further. Spontaneous protests erupted on Tuesday amid frustration over Iraq’s high youth unemployment rate, its dire public services and chronic corruption.

Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi earlier said protesters’ legitimate demands had been heard but appealed for calm.  The former Shiite militia leader, whose bloc is the biggest in parliament, said in a statement that in order to avoid further deaths the government should resign and early elections should be held under UN supervision.

The United Nations called on Iraq yesterday to rapidly and transparently investigate force used by anti-riot police in clashes with protesters.

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