As clouds of white smoke billowed overhead, Showqi had no other option but to flee.
Nearby, dozens of people scattered as they tried to outrun a fresh volley of tear gas fired by security forces in Tahrir Square, in the centre of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.
“They’re the lucky ones, [the ones] who were not targeted by government snipers,” Showqi said on Saturday, referring to the men who had run alongside him, some holding masks and pieces of cloth to their faces as they coughed and gasped for air.
For five straight days, large crowds of mostly young Iraqis have poured onto the streets of Baghdad and other cities in an outburst of anger over chronic unemployment, corruption and poor public services, including access to water and electricity.
Along with tear gas, police have also fired water cannon, live rounds and rubber bullets to disperse the rallies, which began on Tuesday when thousands in Baghdad answered a call on social media.
Since then, nearly 100 people have been killed, including some by sniper fire, while some 4,000 others have been wounded, according to figures by the semi-official Iraqi High Commission of Human Rights. [Continue reading…]