The popular crowd admitted for the first time that its gunmen opened fire on Friday night in al-Khilani Square and the surrounding area in central Baghdad, while two unidentified gunmen assassinated a prominent activist in the anti-government protests late in the evening.
Iraqi sources said that the assassination took place in Karbala, while the activist Fahim Al-Taie, 53, was on his way back to his home from anti-government demonstrations.
Al-Ta’i has participated since the first weeks in the protests calling for a change in the political class that has monopolized rule in Iraq for 16 years, and the street accuses it of corruption, patronage, and subordination to Iran.
More than 450 people have been killed and more than 20,000 injured, since the start of anti-government demonstrations on October 1.
|Dozens of dead and wounded by an armed attack on the protesters in Al- Senak Bridge in Baghdad (Al-Jazeera)|
Threats and eliminations
Activists in Baghdad and elsewhere have already been subjected to threats and kidnappings and killings, saying they are attempts to prevent them from demonstrating.
Al-Taie, married and with children, was publicly critical of the threats to activists.
He wrote on his Facebook page less than 24 hours before his assassination, "We will win and the homeland will return to us despite your noses ... despite the pain inside us, but we smile with hatred at you and your rotten parties."
These events come after the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the commander of Baghdad Operations, General Qais al-Muhammadawi, on the background of the killing and wounding of dozens in al-Khilani Square in central Baghdad.
This came in conjunction with the start of the parliamentary security and defense committee in the presence of senior security officers to discuss the events in Iraq, where the committee decided to discuss today the events of Al-Sank Bridge and Al-Khilani Square today.
On the other hand, Iraqi President Barham Salih pledged, when meeting the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Iraq, to arrest those who attacked the demonstrators.
Storming and victims
Masked gunmen stormed al-Khilani Square in central Baghdad last Friday evening with four-wheel-drive civilian cars, and fired indiscriminately with machine guns at the protesting protesters, killing 25 people and wounding 120 others, according to medical and security sources and eyewitnesses.
Fears that the incident will be the prelude to a new wave of violence prevail in the anti-government protests and ruling parties, which erupted in early October.
This comes while, the popular crowd acknowledged that its gunmen opened fire on Friday night in al-Khilani Square and the surrounding area in central Baghdad, but said that its gunmen intervened in response to the calls of demonstrators who were attacked by terrorists who clashed with the gunmen of the Peace Brigades loyal to the leader of the Sadrist movement Muqtada al-Sadr.
This is the first time that the crowd has acknowledged the presence of its gunmen in anti-government protestors' gathering sites, and it has been repeated over the past weeks that its gunmen are not assigned to maintain security or other functions in the demonstration sites.
The crowd is made up of mostly Shiite armed factions, and it is officially a state force, but observers believe that it does not command government orders but rather its leaders, some of whom have close ties to Iran.
In Najaf, the situation returned to normal after the city witnessed a series of confrontations and the burning of buildings last week by protesters, including diplomatic buildings, which resulted in a number of casualties.
Meanwhile, sit-ins continue in Sadrin Square in the city center, under demands focused on decent living and social justice.