BAGHDAD — An activist says thousands of Iraqis in the southern Basra province have taken to the streets to protest against poor public services and unemployment.

Sameer al-Maliki says the protesters fanned out on Thursday, demanding immediate action by the central government in Baghdad. They plan to block roads leading to oil fields and the nearby border with Iran on Sunday if their demands are not met.

In a video posted online, an angry mob could be seen throwing stones at the guards of the West Qurna 2 oilfield, run by Russia's Lukoil. Shots were heard in the background.

The southern port city of Basra is at the heart of Iraq's main oil-producing region, but like the rest of the country it suffers from frequent power outages and high unemployment.