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Iraq: Security Forces Open Fire At Two Separate Protests

Baghdad, 1 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Iraqi security forces today opened fire during two separate protests by jobless Iraqis, in Baghdad and in Mosul. In Baghdad, police opened fire after a group of unemployed men stormed a police station. Over 100 demonstrators went to a police station in central Baghdad demanding jobs. Police said they were not hiring, and the group stormed the building.

Protesters said they were promised policing jobs in July, and charged police with demanding bribes in return for jobs.

Falah Hassan, an officer from the Iraqi Facilities Protection Services, said several people were injured. "They are asking for jobs, they burned two cars and our accountant manager was injured," he said. "There are other people injured inside." At least one demonstrator was injured in the shooting.

In the northern city of Mosul, a reportedly much larger crowd gathered at an employment office before marching to a local government building. Security guards fired shots to dispel the crowd. There were no reported casualties in that incident.

International officials estimate Iraq's unemployment rate to be at around 50 percent.