Violence escalates in Iraq even after top cleric urges calm

QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA Associated Press BAGHDAD (AP) — Security forces opened fire directly at hundreds of anti-government demonstrators Friday in central Baghdad, killing at least 10 protesters and injuring dozens, hours after Iraq's top Shiite cleric warned both sides to end four days of violence "before it's too late." The deaths raised to 53 the number of people killed in clashes during the continuing protests and marked a sharp escalation in the use of force against unarmed protesters. The violence showed both sides to be unwilling to back down from the unrest that marks the most serious challenge for Iraq since the defeat of the Islamic State group two years ago. In a televised address to the country early Friday, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said the protesters' "legitimate de
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