The Latest: Officials say 7 demonstrators killed in Iraq

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Iraqi security forces fire tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters who set fires and close a street during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. The spontaneous protests which started Tuesday in Baghdad and southern cities were sparked by endemic corruption and lack of jobs. Security forces responded with a harsh crackdown, with dozens killed. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on anti-government protests in Iraq (all times local):

9 p.m.

Iraqi officials say seven anti-government demonstrators have been killed in ongoing protests in the capital Baghdad and 17 wounded.

A medical official in a local hospital and a security official said the seven were killed on Sunday in Sadr City, where hundreds have gathered trying to break through a security cordon to head to the city center. The officials didn’t provide details. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Security forces had sealed off Tahrir Square and heavily deployed all the way to Sadr City, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away to keep protesters back.

Earlier, an Associated Press reporter on the scene saw soldiers firing in the direction of protesters to push them back. There were scuffles as protesters tried to break through the cordon and burned tires.

Iraq has been beset by protests since Tuesday.

— By Qassim Abdul-Zahra.

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8:05 p.m.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman says an investigation is underway to determine the source of live fire that killed many of the more than 100 people who have died during six days of unrest in the country.

Spokesman Saad Maan claimed Sunday that local security forces did not clash with protesters. He said at a press conference that “malicious hands” were targeting protesters and security forces as well on Friday, the bloodiest day of the unrest in Baghdad.

At the time, protests were broken up as security forces fired live ammunition at the anti-government rallies.

Protesters and journalists at the scene of the protests say they witnessed security forces firing on demonstrators and some protesters say snipers were taking part in breaking up the protests. Maad said most of those killed Friday were hit in the head and heart.

Protests have raged in Baghdad and southern cities since Tuesday. Maan said 104 people, including 8 security members, have been killed in the six days of unrest.

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7:10 p.m.

Iraq’s Interior Ministry spokesman says 104 people, including 8 security personnel, have been killed during six days of anti-government protests in Baghdad and the country’s south.

Spokesman Saad Maan said Sunday that 6,107 have been wounded in the unrest, including more than 1,200 security members.

Protests began in Iraq on Tuesday and it wasn’t clear if those numbers included any casualties Sunday.

The protests spiraled into bloody clashes that were focused in Baghdad and a number of southern cities. The spontaneous rallies were started by young Iraqis demanding jobs and an end to endemic corruption in the oil-rich country.

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5:40 p.m.

Army soldiers have fired in the direction of about 300 anti-government protesters who gathered in a suburb in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on the sixth day of unrest that has left more than 80 peoople dead.

The protesters, mostly young men, were scattered in side streets near Sadr City on Sunday afternoon. Troops blocked the main road preventing them from advancing and fired above the protesters’ heads. Ducking, the protesters piled over one another taking cover behind a short wall. The protests come despite calls from Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi for the demonstrators to stay off the streets.

Over the last few days, security forces have deployed in large numbers in central Baghdad, pushing protesters away from Tahrir Square. The square was a gathering point when protests first erupted (backslash)Tuesday.

Since then, rallies spread to southern cities, sparking a heavy crackdown from security forces that left at least 84 killed, mostly in Baghdad

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1:15 p.m.

Calm has prevailed in the Iraqi capital following a bloody night when at least 19 people were killed as security forces opened fire to break up anti-government protests.

Students made it to schools at the start of the working week early Sunday and government employees returned to work. But the capital’s streets were mostly quiet and traffic thin. Burnt tires and debris littered thoroughfares while security remained heavily deployed in many neighborhoods.

Armored vehicles blocked access to Tahrir square from as far as four kilometers (2.5 miles.) Protesters have been trying to converge on the central square.

At least 84 protesters were killed, most of them in Baghdad, since Tuesday when demonstrators initiated rallies to demand jobs, improvements to services and an end to corruption in the oil-rich nation.

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