At least 12 protesters were killed and 22 others wounded on Friday when gunmen in several vehicles opened fire during a protest in central Baghdad, medical sources and activists shared CNN, citing one of the most violent days in the Iraqi capital for weeks also.
During his weekly Friday sermon, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric also warned, saying that the country’s new premier should be chosen “without any foreign interference.”
The time has been going fast for lawmakers to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, who announced his resignation last week, saying “preserve the blood of its people” and “avoid slipping into a cycle of violence, chaos and devastation.”
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has earlier condemned the killing of unarmed protesters, alongside the government’s failure to handle the demonstrations, that sparked over endemic corruption, high unemployment, inadequate public services etc.
Al-Sistani’s claims came on the same day when the United States imposed sanctions on four Iraqis which included “three leaders of Iran-backed militias” over corruption and human rights abuses as well. As per the statement released by the Treasury Department, the militias killed the dozens of peaceful protesters.
“Iraqis have played a step and bloody price” because of the Iranian regime’s involvement in the country,” assistant secretary of state David Schenker said.
Schenker told that Qassem Suleimani has recently been in Iraq “to determine the next political leader of Iraq. It is not normal,” Schenker said. “This is unorthodox … a huge violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”
Nearly 432 people have been killed since anti-government demonstrations started in Iraq on October 1, as per the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq. Another 19,136 people have been injured in the incident, the Commission has said.