Bagh­dad ad­mits mil­i­tary used ex­ces­sive force on pro­test­ers

The National - News - - NEWS - MINA ALDROUBI

Iraqi se­cu­rity forces used “ex­ces­sive force and live fire”, killing 157 peo­ple – mostly civil­ians – dur­ing anti-gov­ern­ment protests this month, an of­fi­cial com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing the un­rest said yes­ter­day.

“The com­mit­tee found that of­fi­cers and com­man­ders lost con­trol [of] their forces dur­ing the protests and this caused chaos,” the panel said.

Protests broke out in Bagh­dad and other cities over high un­em­ploy­ment, poor pub­lic ser­vices and cor­rup­tion, prompt­ing a vi­o­lent se­cu­rity crack­down.

Most of the pro­test­ers were aged be­tween 15 and 25 and about 70 per cent of deaths were caused by bul­let wounds to the head or chest.

The civil­ian death toll was 149 and eight mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces were killed.

Calls were made on so­cial me­dia for ral­lies on Fri­day, the an­niver­sary of Prime Min­is­ter Adel Ab­dul Mahdi’s gov­ern­ment tak­ing of­fice.

Pop­ulist cleric Mo­q­tada Al Sadr also gave his sup­port­ers the green light to re­sume demon­stra­tions on Fri­day.

“It’s your right to par­tic­i­pate in protests on Oc­to­ber 25,” Mr Sadr said.

Oc­to­ber 25 is also the dead­line is­sued by Grand Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Sis­tani, spir­i­tual leader of Iraq’s Shi­ite ma­jor­ity, for the gov­ern­ment to re­spond to pro­test­ers’ de­mands.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said snipers fired on pro­test­ers from a build­ing in the cen­tre of the cap­i­tal.

“We found shells from sniper fire in­side an aban­doned build­ing near a petrol sta­tion in cen­tral Bagh­dad,” the re­port said.

It called for the dis­missal of Bagh­dad’s op­er­a­tions com­man­der and other se­nior se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

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