Security forces shot dead 40 anti-government protesters in over 24 hours amid spiraling violence in the capital and Iraq’s south, security and medical officials said, one day after an Iranian consulate was torched, per the AP. Iran condemned the burning of its consulate in the holy city of Najaf as violence continued into the night across southern Iraq, where security forces had killed 36 protesters and wounded 245 since Wednesday evening, the officials said. Another four protesters were shot dead in the capital. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Police and military forces were deployed across key oil-rich provinces to re-open roads closed off by demonstrations.
The escalating violence and heavy response against demonstrators by a largely Iran-backed government threatened to intensify tensions, especially if efforts to implement electoral and anti-corruption reforms fail to placate protesters. Crisis committees were created to enhance coordination between Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and governors in provinces affected by the protests "for the importance of controlling security and enforcing the law," said a statement from the joint operations command. Security forces shot four protesters dead in Baghdad and wounded 22 when they tried to cross the important Ahrar Bridge leading to the nearby Green Zone, the heavily fortified seat of Iraq’s government.
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