Last updated: 4 May, 2013

Children killed in violence at Iraqi April protest

A UN official said on Saturday that violence at the site of a north Iraq protest in late April killed up to eight children and wounded up to 12 others.

Marzio Babille, Iraq representative of UNICEF, said in an emailed statement that several of the injured children had received severe gunshot wounds.

“UNICEF has received substantial and credible information that up to eight children have been killed and up to 12 others seriously injured during violence … near the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on 23 April 2013,” Babille said.

“Among those reported to have been injured — all boys between the ages of 14 and 17 — several were said to have received severe gunshot wounds.”

Iraqi security forces moved on Sunni anti-government protesters near the town of Hawijah in Kirkuk province on April 23, sparking clashes that killed 53 people.

Dozens more died in subsequent unrest across the country that included revenge attacks targeting security forces, raising fears of a return to the all-out sectarian conflict that claimed tens of thousands of lives between 2006 and 2008.

The late April violence was the deadliest so far linked to protests that broke out in Sunni areas of Shiite-majority Iraq more than four months ago.

The Sunni protesters have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, and criticised authorities for allegedly targeting their community with wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.