BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces trying to disperse crowds of demonstrators in northern Iraq killed 5 people Friday as thousands rallied in cities across the country during what has been 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.
The protests stretched from the northern city of Mosul to the southern city of Basra, reflecting the widespread anger many Iraqis feel at the government's seeming inability to improve their lives.