Iraqi protesters block vital roads, bridges in Baghdad

Iraqi protesters blocked a number of vital bridges and roads in the capital Baghdad on Monday as anti-government demonstrations continued for a tenth day.

Demonstrators also sealed off roads and government institutions in the provinces of Babylon, Dhi Qar, Muthanna, Diwaniya, Wasit and Maysan in southern and central Iraq, according to Anadolu Agency reporters.

Monday’s escalation came a day after protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in the Shia holy city of Karbala, bringing down the Iranian flag and replacing it with Iraqi flag.

In a statement, Iraq’s High Commission of Human Rights (IHCHR) said at least three people were killed and 12 others, including security personnel, injured in the attack on the Iranian consulate in Karbala.

Meanwhile, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf warned of a possible collapse of the Republic Bridge in Baghdad as a result of arson and attacks on the structure’s rubber joints.

The bridge is vital for Iraqis living in the capital as it links Tahrir Square, the epicenter of anti-government protests in Baghdad, with the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings, parliament and foreign missions.

“Burning and destroying the bridge’s rubber joints caused a defect in the bridge,” Al-Iraqiya channel quoted Khalaf as saying, warning that this “may lead to the collapse of the bridge.”

Iraq has been rocked by a second wave of protests since last week against deep-seated corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services.

At least 260 people have been killed and 12,000 others injured since the demonstrations began on Oct. 25, according to IHCHR.

Anger has been building in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Many people in the country have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water.

According to World Bank figures, Iraq’s youth unemployment is around 25%. It is also ranked the 12th most-corrupt country in the world by several transparency organizations.