Gunmen shoot dead five protesters in Iraq

Anti-government protesters and Iraqi security forces continue to clash on the streets

Masked men have attacked anti-government protesters in Iraq's southern city of Basra overnight, killing five and wounding scores, Iraqi state TV and medical officials say.

The shooting in Basra occurred around midnight on Thursday and wounded around 120 people, according to medical officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets since last month in the capital and across the largely Shi'ite south to demand sweeping political change.

In Baghdad on Friday, Iraqi state television said that explosive experts detonated a bomb under a bridge that has been a daily flashpoint between security forces and protesters trying to force their way into the heavily fortified Green Zone, which hosts the government's headquarters.

The report gave no further details about the controlled detonation under Sinak bridge over the Tigris River that cuts through the capital city.

Also on Friday, protester Amir Shami said security forces tore down tents at an protest sit-in in the holy city of Karbala.

More than 250 people have been killed since the unrest erupted on October 1.

Demonstrators complain of widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, including regular power cuts despite Iraq's vast oil reserves.