IRAQ: Testimonies emerge of coordinated attacks which killed at least 20 protesters
Amnesty International has gathered detailed eyewitness testimony of the coordinated attack by unidentified gunmen in Baghdad last night, which claimed at least 20 lives and left more than 130 injured.
The organisation also verified footage from Baghdad that corroborated testimony of witnesses who described the arrival of fleets of gunmen.
Witnesses describe how “endless gunmen” arrived in pick-up trucks and minivans whilst others who had mingled with the crowd shot and stabbed protesters and attacked and set fire to parts of the Garage al-Sinak building.
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Middle East Research Director, said:
“The testimony we have a gathered leaves little doubt that this was a well-coordinated attack and raises serious questions as to how heavily-armed gunmen in a fleet of vehicles were seemingly able to pass through Baghdad’s checkpoints and inflict such a bloody onslaught.
“Last night’s attacks are by far one of the most bloody in an ongoing campaign of intimidation and violence against protesters. Iraqi authorities must urgently investigate these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice and immediately act to ensure protesters are protected. Failure to do so would send a message that such abuses will be tolerated.”
One witness told Amnesty: “They came to kill. They opened fire immediately. They targeted people by shooting straight at them, not in the air. They were not masked. I do not think they cared if anybody saw them.”
Another witness told Amnesty: “They came in pick-up trucks and mini vans. Endless gunmen. We don’t know how they drove through Baghdad unstopped with all its checkpoints.”
A third witness said: “It was terrifying, especially because the situation had been so calm for the past few days. The protesters were hopeful and had given so much importance to being organized and peaceful. Everyone felt strong after the Prime Minister’s resignation.”