Baghdad admits military used excessive force on protesters
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.