Call to arms in Iraq after deadly Kirkuk clashes
Coordination committees in the protest square in Anbar, West of Iraq, called on tribesmen in the province to take up arms and remain on alert, Al-Arabiya’s correspondent reported Wednesday.
The call comes after dozens of people were killed and injured when Iraqi security forces stormed a Sunni Muslim anti-government protest camp in Hawija, near Kirkuk, on Tuesday. The raid on the protest was followed by an attack on Iraqi army checkpoints. Nine Iraqi army members have been killed so far.
Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki has ordered the establishment of a fact-finding mission to investigate the details of the Hawija incident.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi labeled the incident in Hawija as a “catastrophe,” adding that the army’s action against the protesters was a “flagrant violation of the constitution.”
Nujaifi also questioned who gave the order for Iraqi forces to target protesters.
The truth remains a mystery
Until the fact-finding mission completes its task, the truth of what happened in Hawija will remain unclear, although dozens were killed and injured, Al-Arabiya’s correspondent reported.
Statements on what happened during the raid on Hawija are contradictory.
The defense ministry had said that its forces raided the anti-government protest camp to look for outlaws after two military checkpoints were attacked in the area of al-Rashad in the province.
According to the defense ministry’s statement, clashes occurred with armed men leading to fatalities and injuries on both sides. The statement added that dozens of armed men were arrested and weapons were seized.
Protesters however denied these accusations and said the army attacked them and opened fire with no provocation on their part.
Kirkuk’s provincial council condemned the alleged excessive violence practiced by security forces against protesters.
The council held parties that participated in negotiations and in carrying out the raid on the camp responsible because they did not coordinate together to reach a peaceful solution. The council also called on humanitarian organizations to intervene and aid the injured people.