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Amnesty calls for urgent end to 'bloodbath' in Iraq

Amnesty International is calling on Iraqi authorities to immediately rein in security forces after at least six protesters were killed in central Baghdad amid a widening security crackdown.

The deaths, including five by live ammunition, occurred a day earlier during a police operation to clear demonstrations from several bridges and streets near Tahrir Square. In the southern city of Basra, eight protesters have been killed since Thursday.

Amnesty International said there has been at least 264 protester deaths across Iraq in just over a month and called it a "bloodbath."

Anti-government protesters set fire and close streets during ongoing protests in Baghdad, Iraq, in central Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. Iraqi security forces killed several anti-government protesters and wounded others on Saturday, pushing them back from three flashpoint bridges in central Baghdad, medical and security officials said. (AP PhotoHadi Mizban)

The statement called on authorities to end the "unlawful use of lethal force" and said those responsible for it must be brought to justice.

The leaderless, economically driven protests engulfing Baghdad and the south are targeting Iraq's entire political class.

Anti-government protesters set fire and close streets during ongoing protests in Baghdad, Iraq, in central Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. Iraqi security forces killed several anti-government protesters and wounded others on Saturday, pushing them back from three flashpoint bridges in central Baghdad, medical and security officials said. (AP PhotoHadi Mizban)

Iraqi riot police fire tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters during ongoing protests in central Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. The protests intensified Saturday afternoon as demonstrators tried to reach the three bridges, hours after being pushed back under clouds of tear gas from the Sinak bridge to the nearby Khilani square. (AP PhotoHadi Mizban)