26 Feb 2011

Nine killed in Iraq protests

7:58 pm on 26 February 2011

At least nine people have been killed in anti-government protests in cities throughout Iraq.

The BBC reports Baghdad has been all but closed off as authorities ban traffic in the city centre and deploy several thousand soldiers on the streets.

Despite this, several hundred people gathered in Baghdad's Tahrir Square to call for reform. Protesters threw rocks and stones at riot police and tried to overturn concrete barriers blocking a bridge near the square.

Meanwhile, officials say an oil refinery has been shut down after militants carried out a bomb attack and set it on fire. The refinery is in the town of Baiji, 180 kilometres north of Baghdad.

Mass demonstrations are also being held elsewhere in the Middle East, in Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Eygpt.

Tens of thousands attended a day of mourning in Manama for those killed in recent unrest in Bahrain.

The protests follow a wave of revolts that have toppled the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, and challenged the rule of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.