Nearly 550 killed in Iraq protest violence
BAGHDAD - Nearly 550 people have been killed in protest-related violence since unprecedented anti-government demonstrations erupted in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities in October, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission said.
The Iraqi Health Ministry confirmed the first protester was killed on October 1 but has not issued additional reports on fatalities. The commission, which is government-funded but operates independently, became the only source for death tolls until it faced pressure last year to stop reporting. It resumed its public reporting and published its latest statistics on February 7, showing that 543 people, including 276 in Baghdad, had been killed in protests since October.
Seventeen security forces members were among the dead, the list stated. The remaining were protesters or activists, including 22 who were assassinated.
Up to 30,000 people have been wounded during the rallies, medical sources said.
Iraq’s security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas, smoke bombs and machine-gun fire to disperse rallies.
The commission did not lay blame on any particular side but protesters singled out pro-Iran armed factions and the military wings of political parties, alongside the security forces.
The United Nations accused unnamed “militias” for a campaign of assassinations, kidnappings and threats.
The commission documented more than 2,700 arrests, with 328 people still detained. Another 72 Iraqis are categorised as disappeared.