Iraq's key port closed again; 6 protesters killed in Baghdad

Iraq's main port closes again after brief resumption of services; 6 protesters killed in Baghdad

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi security forces opened fire on Thursday, killing six protesters as they were trying to remove barriers blocking their march in central Baghdad, while in the south, demonstrators forced the closing of the country's main port, hours after services had resumed following days of closure, officials said.

Demonstrators have been trying to reach the Green Zone, which houses government offices and foreign embassies.

Along with the six killed, at least 41 protesters were wounded as security forces fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse the march in downtown's Rashid Street, where the central bank is located, security and medical officials said.

The protesters were trying to remove barriers near two bridges that lead to the west bank of the Tigris River. Now all bridges leading to the Green Zone have been blocked by security forces.

Later, a security official said more reinforcements have been added to the entrances leading to the Green Zone. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Protesters have blocked roads to raise pressure on the government. A similar tactic is being used in Lebanon's ongoing anti-government demonstrations.

On Thursday afternoon, protesters returned, burning tires and blocking the road to the port. Trucks came to a standstill and the port shut down again.

The protests pose the biggest challenge to the government since it declared victory over militants from the Islamic State group nearly two years ago.