Tensions Flare as Unidentified Gunmen Kill Iraq Protesters

Defiant protesters continue rallies despite attacks

Conspicuously violent crackdowns on protests in Iraq have so far failed to curb the demonstrations, but in a sign officials don’t have any alternative ideas, attacks escalated Friday night in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

Unidentified gunmen showed up at the square, the main protest camp, and opened fire on protesters, killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 130 others. The protesters believe they were government-backed, noting that power lines were cut right before the attack.

That and a rocket attack against the home of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, an outspoken supporter of the protesters, led to an emergency parliament session about the mounting violence. But if there was one lesson everyone should’ve learned by now, it wouldn’t stop the rallies.

By Sunday, thousands of protesters were back on the streets in Baghdad, and elsewhere. Tahrir Square was full again, and protesters were insisting that no amount of violence was going to drive them away from the streets.

Iraq’s protests have continued to surge, and violence has had little impact in most cases, or led to even bigger rallies. The only thing that showed any sign of interesting protests were immediate promises of reform, and since the government has reneged on all of those, even they are seeming less and less likely to have an impact.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.