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More deaths and clashes follow Iraq demonstrations

From Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
At least 10 people were killed, and dozens injured in a series of protests across Iraq on Friday.
At least 10 people were killed, and dozens injured in a series of protests across Iraq on Friday.
  • NEW:Eight people are wounded during funerals for two killed in Samarra the day before
  • NEW: Two more protesters wounded Friday in Tikrit have died, police said
  • NEW: In all, police report deaths of 13 demonstrators across Iraq
  • Human Rights Watch calls on Iraq's government to investigate

Baghdad (CNN) -- At least eight people were wounded Saturday in the Iraqi city of Samarra during clashes between security forces and angry mourners accompanying the caskets of two people killed in protests the day before, according to local police.

Also, two protesters critically wounded in Friday protests in Tikrit died on Saturday, police said. And a teenaged boy died Friday night during protests in Kubaisa, in Anbar province, police said Saturday.

With those deaths, the number of those reported killed in protests across the country rose to 13, according to official accounts.

Since early February, thousands of protesters have participated in a series of demonstrations across the country, apparently inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Their protests are against corruption, restrictions on freedom of expression, unemployment and poor government services.

Protests rage on in Baghdad
  • Iraq
  • Baghdad
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Basra

In Saturday's incident in Samarra, protesters defied curfew to attend the funerals of two people killed during protests there, chanting "God is great" and "Down with the government."

Security forces battled some of the protesters and later opened fire to disperse the crowd, wounding at least eight, police said.

The death in Kubaisa, a small town about 140 kilometers west of Baghdad, came after security forces opened fire to disperse protesters late Friday night. Later, demonstrators attacked the city council building and set it on fire, police said.

Two protesters critically injured during Friday protests in the Iraqi city of Tikrit died on Saturday, according to police there, bringing to four the number of people who died as the result of clashes with security forces.

In Basra, mourners also held a funeral procession Saturday for a protester killed the day before.

Ali Ghaim al-Maliki, the head of Basra's security council, told reporters Saturday that at least 71 people were wounded in Friday's clashes -- including 51 security forces and 20 anti-government protesters. Most of the injuries in the city, located about 550 kilometers (342 miles) south of Baghdad, occurred during fighting with stones and batons, he said.

In several cities, police said security forces fired at crowds of protesters to disperse them. In Tikrit, police said two protesters were killed and 17 others were wounded during the clashes. In Samarra, two people were killed and seven protesters were injured, police said.

Police said five other demonstrators were killed in the cities of Mosul and Hawijah. Unrest also flared in Baghdad, Falluja, Ramadi and in two towns in the province of Salaheddin.

In a statement released Friday, Human Rights Watch called on Iraqi authorities to investigate the deaths of demonstrators.

"The Iraqi authorities need to rein in their security forces and account for every single killing," said Tom Porteous, the organization's deputy program director. "The security forces need to use the maximum possible restraint in dealing with protesters."

The country's defense ministry has not issued a response to the reported deaths.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had urged citizens not to participate in Friday's planned massive protests, claiming former members of Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorists were plotting to take advantage of the demonstrations to create chaos in the country.

The Iraqi government was formed in December, nine months after an inconclusive national election. This is the second elected government in the nearly eight years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Hussein.