Iraqi officials: 1 protester shot dead in fresh violence

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BAGHDAD (AP) — One protester was shot dead and at least six wounded in renewed violence between anti-government demonstrators and security forces in central Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi officials said.

Separately, Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi received a call from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who congratulated him on his nomination and emphasized joint coordination between Iraq and the U.S. as relations between the two countries soured after a Washington-directed attack Jan. 3 near Baghdad airport killed top Iranian general Qassem Solimani.

One protester was killed in Baghdad's central Khilani Square Sunday evening and at least six were wounded when security forces fired live rounds to disperse crowds, Iraqi security and medical officials said. The clashes occurred near the Sinak bridge, which was recently reopened by security forces after protesters had blocked access for months.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Protesters continue to occupy central Tahrir square and adjacent Jumhuriyah bridge, which leads to the fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government.

Over 500 people have been killed under fire from security forces since mass anti-government protests erupted in the capital and Iraq's south on Oct. 1. Thousands of Iraqis, mostly young people, took to the streets to decry government corruption, poor services and unemployment.

In the call, Pompeo emphasized bilateral joint action and coordination, according to a statement from the prime minister's office, at a time when U.S-Iraq relations have seethed after the killing of Soleimani. After the strike, Iraqi lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution to pressure the government and oust U.S. troops.

Allawi was elected prime minister-designate Feb. 1 after months of negotiations between rival blocs. He is set to present a Cabinet for parliament's approval Wednesday.