Iraq protest death toll mounts as cleric warns against meddling

Iraq’s top Shi’ite Muslim cleric said a new prime minister must be chosen without foreign interference in an apparent nod to Iranian influence, as armed men killed at least 19 people, including three police, near a Baghdad protest site on Friday.

More than 70 others were wounded by gunfire and stabbings near Tahrir Square, the main protest camp in the Iraqi capital, police and medics said.

It was the most violent flare-up in the capital for weeks and came a week after Iraqi’s prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, said he would resign following two months of anti-government protests.

Security sources said they could not identify the gunmen who attacked protesters.

Source: News Agencies