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Iraq Inquiry: Excessive Force Used On Protesters; 149 Killed

Iraqi men carry the coffin of a demonstrator, who was killed during anti-government protests, at a funeral in Najaf, Iraq October 5, 2019.

An Iraqi government-appointed inquiry into week-long protests earlier this month has determined that security forces used excessive force, killing 149 people and wounding over 3,000.

Most of the dead and injured were shot in the head or chest by live rounds. Eight members of the security forces were also killed.

The committee recommended sacking senior commanders in Baghdad and several of the southern provinces where protests erupted beginning Oct. 1.

During and after the protests many Iraqis and some media outlets expressed suspicion that those who had opened fire on demonstrators were actually members of Iran-backed militia groups.

After the defeat of the Islamic State group in Iraq, thousands of the Shiite militiamen were absorbed into the army and security forces.

Iraqi security forces used tear gas, live ammunition and rubber bullets to disperse young Iraqi demonstrators. The protesters were demanding jobs, electricity, clean water and an end to corruption.

The results of the inquiry were announced Tuesday, a few days before renewed protests are planned.

The recommendations were approved by Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi who referred them to the judiciary.

Reporting by AP