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Attack on Iraqi protesters leaves at least 12 dead

By Danielle Haynes
Attack on Iraqi protesters leaves at least 12 dead
Iraqi protesters light candles Saturday near bloodstained clothes at the site of an attack on protesters in central Baghdad. Photo by Murtaja Lateef/EPA-EFE

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- At least a dozen protesters died after gunmen opened fire on a demonstration in central Baghdad amid weeks of violence in the Iraqi capital, witnesses and medical officials said.

The attack took place overnight Friday, into Saturday morning in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

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Sources told CNN that gunmen in multiple pickup trucks fired on the protest site and took over a nearby parking garage used by the demonstrators.

BBC News, citing witnesses at the scene, said the death toll was closer to 20.

It's unclear who was responsible for the attack.

The shooting comes after weeks of protests in Iraq that have left more than 400 people dead. Demonstrations have since October have called for an end to government corruption, unemployment and lack of public services.

On Nov. 29, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Magdi announced his resignation after Iraqi cleric Ayatollah Alial-Sistani called for an end to his administration.

While protesters blamed Iraqi's political parties on its economic problems, the government tried to control the demonstrations by imposing curfews, Internet blackouts and lethal force.

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