At least 27 people have lost their lives in Iraq on one of the bloodiest days since anti-government protests began last month, medics and officials say.
At least 20 people died when security forces opened fire to clear bridges in the southern city of Nasiriya.
Another four protesters died in Baghdad and three more in the city of Najaf, where Iran’s consulate was also burnt.
Iraqis have been taking to the streets to demand more jobs, an end to corruption and better public services.
The Iraqi military has announced it is setting up military “crisis cells” to quell unrest. The military command said an emergency unit had been created to “impose security and restore order”.
At least 350 people have been killed and thousands wounded since the unrest began.
The military had sent reinforcements to tackle unrest in Nasiriya, the birthplace of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and a hotspot for protests.
Troops used live ammunition and tear gas to clear sit-ins on two bridges, medics and security sources reported, with protesters responding by torching a police station.
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