Demonstrators take to streets of southern hotspot of Nasiriyah as another protester dies from wounds sustained in clashes last week.

Protesters hold pictures of people who have been killed in anti-government protests during a demonstration calling for the government to resign, in Baghdad, Iraq, on November 29, 2020.
Protesters hold pictures of people who have been killed in anti-government protests during a demonstration calling for the government to resign, in Baghdad, Iraq, on November 29, 2020. (AP)

Thousands of people have flooded Iraq's southern hotspot of Nasiriyah as a resident died from wounds sustained in clashes last week between anti-government protesters and supporters of a controversial cleric.

Ridha al Rikaby was hit in the head by a bullet on Friday when followers of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr clashed with young demonstrators in Nasiriyah's Habboubi Square, said medics.

He died on Monday, bringing the toll from the day of violence to eight dead and several dozen wounded, and thousands took to the streets in a funeral march, a correspondent said.

Iraqi security forces were deployed on the streets of Nasiriya, following deadly weekend clashes.

READ MORE: Several dead as rival protesters clash in southern Iraq

Lockdown imposed

After last week's clashes, authorities imposed a lockdown to try to stem further rallies in the southern city, sacked the provincial police chief, and launched an investigation into the events.

Iraqi premier Mustafa al Kadhemi dispatched National Security Advisor Qasem al Arakji and other senior officials to Nasiriyah on Monday for talks with protesters.

But anger simmered in Nasiriyah.

"Once again, peaceful protesters are dying under the government's nose, and the security forces can't hold the killers accountable," said a demonstrator.

Heavy casualties

Nasiriyah was a major hub for the protest movement that erupted in October 2019 against a government seen by demonstrators as corrupt, inept, and beholden to neighbouring Iran.

Nearly 600 people died across Iraq in protest-related violence during those rallies, including trauma wounds sustained by tear gas canisters, but there has been virtually no accountability for those deaths.

Last week's violence coincided with the one-year anniversary of one of the bloodiest incidents of the 2019 uprising when more than three dozen people died at Nasiriyah's Zeitun (Olive) Bridge on November 28.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies