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Anti-Iraq protestors close roads, schools

Anti-Iraq protestors close roads, schools

Karbala: Iraqi anti-government protesters blocked roads in the country's south with burning tyres on Wednesday, as schools and public offices stayed shut a day after

deadly clashes with security forces.

The country has been rocked by the biggest wave of protests since the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, leaving more than 350 people dead and around 15,000 wounded since early October.

Violence had erupted in the southern holy city of Karbala on Tuesday, with one protester killed as riot police fired live rounds both into the air

and directly into crowds of teenagers pelting them with rocks. Fearing more bloodshed, Karbala's religious authorities ordered their network of private schools in the city, as well as in nearby Babylon and the second holy city of Najaf, kept shut for two days starting Wednesday. Thick columns of black smoke could still be seen rising from Karbala, which is visited every year by millions of Shiite pilgrims from around the world, as demonstrators torched tyres around and inside the city.

In Nasiriyah, further south, local authorities ordered all public offices closed for two days, although they had been largely shut already by ongoing sit-ins and marches.

Iraq's street violence has left many thousands wounded.

In the protest hot spots of Diwaniyah, Kut and Najaf, activists also cut roads with flaming tyres to keep government employees from reaching their offices.

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