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Protesters storm Iraq's Parliament for second time in week

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the Sadrist movement, gather inside the Iraqi parliament building after they stormed the Green Zone in central Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday. Photo by Ahmed Jalil/EPA-EFE
Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the Sadrist movement, gather inside the Iraqi parliament building after they stormed the Green Zone in central Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday. Photo by Ahmed Jalil/EPA-EFE

July 30 (UPI) -- Protesters supportive of populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed Baghdad's Parliament for the second time this week Saturday, leading to dozens of injuries.

The demonstrators breached the fortified Green Zone, where government buildings are located, CNN reported.

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Iraqi forces responded by using tear gas and water cannons against the protesters.

The Iraqi Health Ministry said local hospitals treated at least 60 people for injuries sustained during the clashes.

Kurdistan 24 reported that Saturday's demonstrations began in Tahrir Square before heading to the Green Zone, where protesters removed concrete barriers to access Parliament.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called for peace and asked protesters "not to escalate the situation," CNN reported.

The demonstrators are protesting Monday's nomination by the pro-Iran Coordination Framework political alliance of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for prime minister.

The protest, the largest in nearly a year, comes amid a stalemate over forming a new Iraq government that began after October's parliamentary elections, which saw al-Sadr's bloc win 20 additional Parliament seats in the 329-seat body, making it the largest seat-holder in the chamber with about 75.

Last month amid the protracted stalemate, 73 of the Sadrist Bloc members resigned, seemingly in protest.

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Darryl Coote contributed to this report.

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