Iraq gov’t urged to rein in security forces to end ‘bloodbath’

As protesters’ death toll jumps, Amnesty calls for urgent end to ‘relentless and unlawful use of lethal force’.

The death toll during demonstrations in Iraq surged to more than 300 as security forces were accused of “relentlessly” targeting protesters.

Six more people were killed in the capital Baghdad on Sunday and dozens of others hurt in clashes.

The head of the Iraqi parliament’s human rights commission told Al Jazeera that 319 people have died since October 1 with more than 15,000 wounded. Most of the casualties were anti-government protesters, but security officers also died in the violence.

Iraqi security forces in Baghdad fired tear gas at demonstrators and erected concrete barriers in a bid to block their movement.

Security members have used live fire, rubber-coated bullets, and tear gas to quell the sweeping demonstrations in Baghdad and several southern cities against the country’s ruling elite.

Iraqi medical workers who have treated the wounded say they’re being attacked by security members along with the protesters.

“They’re targeting us to prevent the treatment of the injured,” Dr Mustafa Fawzi told Al Jazeera.

“Two days ago on a bridge they were chasing us. We were hiding on side streets and they were shooting at us from Humvees. Who they are and who they get their orders from, we don’t know.”

A medical source said about 30 people were wounded in the al-Khulani area on Sunday, while volunteer medic Azhar Qassem said doctors would stay put in Tahrir Square to treat any wounded. “We won’t pull out,” he insisted.

Military spokesman Abdul Kareem Khalef denied that the gunmen were part of the legitmate security forces.

“They are not anti-riot police, they are not part of our forces. They’re civilians, or militias, we don’t know. We’ve started an investigation to track them,” he said.

Khalef added these people he calls “infiltrators” are also attacking security forces.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, six protesters or volunteers providing assistance in the Baghdad demonstrations have been abducted by unknown assailants.

One of them, 36-year-old volunteer and activist Saba al-Mahdawi, had been providing medical supplies in Tahrir Square on November 2 when she was taken on her way home from the protests. Her fate remains unknown.

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