Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Iraq Panel Recommends Sacking Security Officials over Deadly Protests

Iraq Panel Recommends Sacking Security Officials over Deadly Protests

Tuesday, 22 October, 2019 - 12:30
A demonstrator shows the victory signs during a protest against government corruption amid dissatisfaction at lack of jobs and services in Baghdad, Iraq October 1, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily

A total of 157 people were killed in week-long anti-government protests that erupted in Baghdad and other cities earlier this month, an official inquiry found on Tuesday, saying the deaths occurred because security forces used excessive force and live fire to quell demonstrations.

It said 149 civilians and eight members of the security forces died before the unrest subsided on Oct. 7.

The capital accounted for 111 of the dead, nearly all of whom were protesters, the inquiry found.

Around 70 percent of the deaths were caused by bullet wounds "to the head or chest", according to the findings, which were published as Iraq braces for fresh protests on Friday.

The panel of inquiry recommended that the Baghdad operations commander in charge of the response to the unrest and dozens of other senior security officials be dismissed.

Protests over high unemployment, poor public services and corruption erupted on Oct. 1, prompting a violent security crackdown. Protesters blame graft and infighting among political leaders for failing to improve their lives.

"The committee found that officers and commanders lost control over their forces during the protests (and this) caused chaos."

It said the committee found evidence of sniper fire targeting protesters from inside a building in central Baghdad.

"The committee found during its field investigation shells from a sniper rifle inside an abandoned building near a petrol station in central Baghdad," the report said.

Editor Picks