Iraqi security forces in Baghdad threw tear gas canisters at protesters and erected concrete barriers to block their movement a day after forcefully clearing the scene of a security operation that killed them. at least six people in the capital.
The dead on Saturday killed more than 260 people since the protests began, as security forces used live fire, rubber bullets and tear gas to crack down on mass protests in Baghdad and several southern cities. the ruling elite of the country.
In a late statement Saturday, Amnesty International described the operation as a "bloodbath" and called on the Iraqi government to control the security forces.
"The Iraqi government has a duty to protect the right of its people to life, as well as to come together and express their views. This bloodbath must stop now and those responsible must be brought to justice, "said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International's representative. Director East and North Africa, said.
"The Iraqi authorities must immediately order that this unlawful and relentless use of lethal force be ended."
Deadly violence seizes Iraq as security forces clear demonstration sites
The crackdown began on Saturday morning when security forces attempted to regain control of three bridges spanning the Tigris in the heart of Baghdad.
Iraqi forces then moved to Tahrir Square, the center of the protests that have lasted for several weeks, firing live ammunition and tear gas.
On Saturday night, Al Jazeera saw at least 10 young protesters being treated for tear gas inhalation in less than an hour in one of the many clinics surrounding Tahrir Square. In an improvised operating room, two doctors removed plastic and metal shell shrapnel from a man's leg. In total, more than 100 people were injured.
Doctors who witnessed the police operation in Baghdad told Amnesty International that four protesters had been shot with live ammunition, while two others had died from their injuries with tear gas grenades.
Amnesty said that at least 264 people had died in the country in just over a month, while other statistics, including one compiled by the US government, have been reported. AFP news agency, estimate the death toll at around 300. The government has stopped publishing official figures. Officials also denied that protesters were killed on Saturday.
On Sunday afternoon, clashes resumed at the al-Khulani roundabout in Baghdad, Baghdad. Security forces fired tear gas canisters at protesters. Employees based in the area were invited to leave.
Security forces also reportedly closed roads in the area with concrete barriers, trying to prevent protesters from reaching Tahrir Square and Sanak Bridge.
"Eyewitnesses [said] "New clashes are taking place around and around the Sanak Bridge, one of the bridges leading from the area near Tahrir Square to other heavily fortified areas of Baghdad," said Mohammed. Jamjoom of Al Jazeera.
"Tension is rising and people are fearful of further clashes throughout the day," he added, adding that demonstrations and clashes would also have occurred in the cities of Basra and Najaf. .
In Nasiriyah city, in the south of the country, security and medical officials said 31 people were injured in clashes in front of the education directorate. Among the wounded were two schoolchildren, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity and in accordance with the regulations.
Atmosphere of intimidation
Since October 1, Iraqis have flocked to the streets to protest against corruption and the government's inability to provide basic services and economic opportunities.
Protesters' claims have since expanded to include the resignation of the government and a A complete overhaul of the country's political system, which was put in place after an American invasion, which would have allowed certain individuals and groups to enrich and extend their influence.
Human rights groups and observers also sounded the alarm regarding the arrest and intimidation of activists and doctors, allegedly followed by security forces. unidentified.
Clashes erupt in Iraq despite call for calm of Shiite leader
"The security forces see the doctor's jacket and shoot at them," Al Jazeera Bassam, a 25-year-old medical volunteer, said, asking that his real name not be used.
according to At the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, six protesters or volunteers attending the Baghdad demonstrations were abducted by unknown assailants.
One of them, Saba al-Mahdawi, a 36-year-old activist and activist, was providing medical supplies in Tahrir Square on November 2, when she returned home after the protests. . His destiny remains unknown.
The commitments of the politician
The excessive use of force by police and security forces continued despite politicians' promises to end the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi promised that the government and the judiciary would continue to investigate deaths, adding that all detainees arrested in recent weeks would be released.
In a statement released Saturday, Abdul Mahdi said the protesters should allow a return to normal life.
Aged 77, he also said that new electoral reforms would be announced in the "coming days", without however giving more details.
The Prime Minister had already promised a number of reforms, includingTips for the poor, more job opportunities for graduates and promises to punish a handful of corrupt officials. But his words did little to quell public anger.
Abdul Mahdi came to power last year thanks to a fragile alliance between Shiite pope leader Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, or Popular Mobilization Forces.
He declined to step down, but said he was ready to step down if political leaders agreed to replace him, according to President Barham Salih.
Additional report by Sofia Barbarani in Baghdad