BAGHDAD, Nov 8 (BSS/AFP) – The United Nations chief Antonio Guterres
denounced as “disturbing” reports that Iraqi security forces have fired live
ammunition at anti-government protesters in Baghdad, as mass rallies
continued to rock the capital and southern Iraq.
The demonstrations broke out on Oct 1 in anger over corruption and
unemployment but have morphed into demands that the entire ruling system be upended.
The violence has left nearly 280 dead, with security forces resuming their
use of live rounds on Monday after nearly two weeks of using volleys of tear gas, but no firearms, to push back protesters.
Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his “serious concern over the
rising number of deaths and injuries during the ongoing demonstrations in
“Reports of the continued use of live ammunition against demonstrators are
disturbing,” he said in a statement.
He called for all acts of violence to be investigated “seriously” and
renewed his appeal for “meaningful dialogue between the government and
In Baghdad, protesters had been concentrated in Tahrir Square but have
increasingly spilled over onto nearby bridges leading to the western bank of the Tigris.
For days, they have faced off against security forces on the Al-Jumhuriyah
bridge, which links them to the Green Zone where government offices and
embassies are based.
They then spread to Al-Sinek, which ends near the Iranian embassy, and Al-
Ahrar, near other government buildings.
A group of protesters tried to cross a fourth bridge, Al-Shuhada,
but were met with live rounds from security forces.
Several protesters were wounded.
“The riot police hit us with batons on our heads and we threw rocks at
them,” said Mahmoud, a 20-year-old protester being treated by medics after
trying to cross Al-Shuhada bridge.
“But then they started firing live rounds on people.”
Even the tear gas usage has been deadly, however, with medics and rights
group Amnesty International saying security forces appeared to be firing the canisters directly at protesters.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said security forces were instructed to use force if protesters got close to important government
buildings including the central bank.
On Wednesday, at least four people died of wounds sustained in earlier
protests, medical sources said.
Oil-rich Iraq is OPEC’s second biggest producer, but one in five people
live in poverty and youth unemployment stands at 25 percent, according to the World Bank. — NNN-AGENCIES