Wires

UPDATE 2-Protesters block Iraqi port after brief resumption of work - sources

(Recasts with new blockade of port)

BASRA, Iraq, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Dozens of anti-government protesters blocked the entrance to Iraq's port of Umm Qasr on Thursday just hours after operations had resumed, port officials said.

Work at Umm Qasr had halted for more than a week after demonstrators blocked roads leading to the southern port, which receives most of the grain, vegetable oils and sugar that Iraq depends upon. The government has said the stoppage has cost the country more than $6 billion.

Most protesters had cleared the area and operations resumed early on Thursday. However, several dozen activists, relatives of a demonstrator killed during weeks of clashes with security forces, then returned to block the main gate, the officials said.

Anti-government unrest in Iraq that began in Baghdad over a lack of jobs and poor services has lasted for weeks and spread to southern cities, with more than 250 people killed by a brutal crackdown by security forces.

Port officials were unable to say why the protesters had left earlier.

Oil and security officials said operations resumed on Thursday at the nearby Nassiriya oil refinery, where protesters had stopped fuel tankers entering or leaving the day before.

Halting the fuel tankers that transport fuel from the Nassiriya refinery to regional gas stations caused fuel shortages across the southern Iraqi province of Dhi Qar. The refinery had recently been producing around half its capacity, oil officials said. (Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by John Davison; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christian Schmollinger)