Iraqis pour into streets for biggest protest day since Saddam

Baghdad (Reuters) — Tens of thousands of Iraqis thronged central Baghdad on Friday demanding the root-and-branch downfall of the political elite in the biggest day of mass anti-government demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

One woman died after she was struck in the head by a tear gas canister, Iraq’s Human Rights Commission said, and at least 155 people were wounded on Friday as security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters camped out in the capital’s Tahrir Square.

Five people died on Thursday night from similar injuries.

Protests have accelerated dramatically in recent days, drawing huge crowds from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides to reject the political parties in power since 2003.

Friday, the Muslim main day of prayer, drew the biggest crowds yet, with many taking to the streets after worship.

By the afternoon tens of thousands had packed the square, condemning elites they see as deeply corrupt, beholden to foreign powers and responsible for daily privations…

Protests have been comparatively peaceful by day, becoming more violent after dark as police use tear gas and rubber bullets to battle self-proclaimed “revolutionary” youths.

At least 250 people have been killed over the past month.