3 killed in Baghdad protests as military bans live ammunition

International Desk
7 November 2019, Thu
Published: 08:16 Updated: 08:59

3 killed in Baghdad protests as military bans live ammunition

At least three people were killed in anti-government protests in Baghdad on Wednesday while 17 others were injured, Iraq's human rights committee said.

Iraqis have congregated in the capital's Tahrir Square for weeks demanding an overhaul of the political system in the biggest wave of mass protests since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The death toll came as Iraq's military spokesman said security forces were ordered not to use live fire on demonstrators.

"To avoid any confusion, clear and strict instructions have been handed down that no live ammunition be used. Orders have also been given not allow any live ammunition on the scene [of protests]," Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

In the 24 hours too late Tuesday, security forces shot dead at least 13 protesters.

Abu Zahra, 50, said demonstrators were peacefully protesting. 

"We are here to block the bridges. If we don't, security forces are going to retake all the bridges and Tahrir Square and end our protest. We are defending our brothers in Tahrir."

Haider Raaed sells Iraqi flags on the streets of Baghdad that have become more popular since the demonstrations began.

"We want a new country, better than this one ruled by [Prime Minister] Adel Abdul Mahdi. He killed young men. Every time young people come to buy flags and go back [to protest] they started shooting live ammunition," Raaed told Al Jazeera.

Security forces opened fire again later on Wednesday, this time to prevent demonstrators from blocking the fifth bridge.

Internet access remained limited after the government shut it down earlier this week. Netblocks, a civil society group that tracks internet restrictions, said usage dropped to 19 percent of normal levels overnight Tuesday before being partially restored.

Netblocks said on Wednesday that Iraq "remains largely offline".

"Blocking the internet is a catastrophe. The authorities have totally isolated us from the world and started killing us," columnist Muhtada Jabbar told Al Jazeera.