Iraqi security forces have fired teargas and stun grenades to disperse stone-throwing protesters in clashes that wounded scores of people near Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, where hundreds marked the anniversary of anti-government unrest in 2019, Report informs via the Guardian.

At least 86 people were wounded on Saturday, about half of them members of the security forces, and 38 protesters were hit by rubber bullets.

“Infiltrated elements” were attacking security forces with Molotov cocktails and hunting rifles, Iraq’s military said.

Security personnel had deployed checkpoints across the city, closed bridges and squares, and erected walls across some of the bridges leading to the fortified Green Zone that houses government headquarters and foreign embassies.

Protesters in the square waved the Iraqi flag and chanted: “We want to overthrow the regime.”

“We took part in today’s peaceful protests because we want our demands to be met … we want security, jobs and our simple rights … we are not here to fight or shed blood,” said Laith, a young protester from Baghdad.

A few meters away, a Reuters reporter witnessed security forces firing teargas and stun grenades to disperse protesters who had tried to tear down a wall blocking the Republic Bridge leading across the Tigris to the Green Zone.

Protests also erupted in southern provinces. In the city of Nasiriya, hundreds gathered in the central Haboubi Square and many marched towards the provincial building and threw Molotov cocktails.

In Diwaniya and Basra, protesters gathered in front of the provincial government building and burned tires.

In 2019 protests erupted against then prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s government, with demonstrators demanding an overhaul of a political system they saw as profoundly corrupt and keeping most Iraqis in poverty.