At least 14 people were killed and 865 wounded overnight in Karbala after security forces opened fire on protesters, Reuters reported, citing medical and security sources. Karbala police have denied the deaths.
Protesters on social media are saying a “massacre” occurred. Videos circulating on social media show crying children being carried to safety by uniformed Iraqi security forces as the sound of shooting can be heard. A child is heard crying “I want my father,” and another says “Father has been killed.”
In another widely-shared video, a protestor running as shots can be heard shouts, “The protestors are all dead. This is Karbala! Listen! These are all live rounds.”
A source at a hospital in the city confirmed to Rudaw English that they treated protesters who had been hit by live gunfire. The source said their hospital did not see any deaths.
The Karbala police on Tuesday morning issued a statement claiming the reports of deaths among the protesters are “devoid of truth.”
“Karbala police deny there being any martyr in yesterday evening’s protests and affirm that there was no martyr, neither in the ranks of security forces or protests,” the police stated. It asserted there was one death in the city over night, a homicide in the east of the city.
“The Karbala police flatly deny the fabrication of news being shared on media outlets and the videos shared are not true,” the statement read.
Karbala’s Health Department, quoted by Iraqi state media, claimed there had been 112 injured people, but no deaths, except for the homicide case that the police mentioned.
Iraqi security expert Husham al-Hashimi tweeted that the United Nations mission in Iraq (UNAMI) is investigating the events in Karbala because of conflicting information. Rudaw has reached out to UNAMI for comment.
Anti-government protests were reignited on Friday with demonstrators calling for a revolution. The parliament convened on Monday and took measures in an attempt to meet protesters demands, including voting to dissolve provincial and local council, slashing privileges of top government officials, and forming a committee to amend the constitution.
At least 157 people were killed in the first week of protests at the start of October and 74 more were killed in renewed protests, as of Monday evening.