Iraqi security forces shooting into the air to disperse a crowd of demonstrators in northern Iraq killed one person Friday as thousands rallied in cities across the country during what was billed as the "Day of Rage."
The Iraqi capital was virtually locked down, with soldiers deployed en masse across central Baghdad, searching protesters trying to enter Liberation Square and closing off the plaza and side streets with razor wire. The heavy security presence reflected the concern of Iraqi officials that demonstrations here could gain traction as they did in Egypt and Tunisia, then spiral out of control.
Iraqi Army helicopters buzzed overhead, while Humvees and trucks took up posts throughout the square, where a group of about 2,000 flag-waving demonstrators shouted "No to unemployment," and "No to the liar al-Maliki," referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
A crowd of angry marchers in the northern city of Hawija, 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad, tried to break into the city's municipal building, said the head of the local city council, Ali Hussein Salih. That prompted security forces to fire into the air.