The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, on Saturday condemned the shooting of unarmed protesters in central Baghdad on Friday night.
Unidentified armed men killed over a dozen protesters late Friday in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square in another night of blood-ridden violence over two months after anti-government demonstrations began in Iraq.
“The deliberate killing of unarmed protesters by armed elements is nothing less than an atrocity against the people of Iraq. The perpetrators must be identified and brought to justice without delay,” Hennis-Plasschaert said in a statement.
She urged Iraqi forces “to protect the peaceful protesters from violence” and called on demonstrators “to cooperate constructively to ensure the peaceful protests can be duly protected.”
The incident occurred on the same day the US sanctioned three Iran-backed Iraqi militia leaders for alleged roles in the killing of protesters in various parts of Iraq. Washington has said they would be seeking further sanctions against entities involved in the deaths of demonstrators.
In a night of violent crackdowns in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, unidentified armed individuals killed at least 19 protesters, including three police officers, in stabbings and shootings. They also wounded upward to 70 others.
On Thursday, 15 protesters were stabbed after Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) supporters joined demonstrations in Baghdad.
The interior ministry (police) announced that it had formed a commission of inquiry to investigate the attacks on protesters.
Since the demonstrations began in October, over 400 people have died, most of them killed by Iraqi security forces, while 17,000 others have been wounded.
The Iraqi Parliament recently approved the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi in response to protest demands.