Iraq: End bloodshed and killing of children
Amnesty International condemns in the strongest terms the indiscriminate attack by armed groups on Thursday that killed
at least 41 civilians, 34 of them children. The attack caused the highest number of children casualties since the
beginning of the US-led war on Iraq last year.
A series of bombs were detonated in Baghdad yesterday as crowds were gathering to celebrate the opening of a water
treatment plant, and US soldiers were handing out sweets to children. It is not clear whether the US convoy or the
crowds were the prime target of the attack, which caused 41 casualties and 131 injured.
The Tawhid and Jihad armed group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement
posted on a website. The group hailed the attacks as "heroic operations". The group has been responsible for a string of
attacks, as well as the kidnapping of foreign nationals, including two American contractors, Jack Hensley and Eugene
Armstrong, who were later beheaded by their captors, and the British engineer Kenneth Bigley who remains kidnapped.
Amnesty International calls on armed groups to stop killing civilians and carrying out indiscriminate attacks, targeting
densely populated areas, and to respect minimum standards of international humanitarian law, justice and humanity in
their actions. Indiscriminate attacks have devastating effects and reveal complete disregard for the most fundamental
human right- the right to life.
Amnesty International expressed its deep concern at the growing number of civilian casualties in Iraq. There are
mounting reports of civilians caught in battles between US troops and insurgents.
US and Iraqi forces have reportedly launched a major offensive against alleged insurgents in the town of Samarra on
Friday 1st October. The troops, backed by armoured vehicles and warplanes, reportedly advanced through the city
overnight. Clashes have occurred between the military and armed insurgents, some close to a mosque that attracts many
worshippers to the region. According to a hospital doctor, 23 civilians have been killed and 45 injured. The US military
has announced that 80 insurgents have been killed.
In recent weeks the US has launched almost nightly bombardments in Falluja. Operations have also taken place in the
cities of Ramadi and in Sadr City, Baghdad. While it has been difficult to determine the number of civilian casualties,
witnesses and hospital officials have disputed US military accounts of the "precision strikes", and claimed that tens of
civilians - including women and children -- have been killed.
It has been reported that the attack against Samarra by the Multinational Forces (MNF) may be the beginning of a wider
offensive. Amnesty International fears that civilians are at continued risk unless necessary precautions are taken to
Amnesty International calls on the MNF to take all necessary precautions to protect civilians and respect the principles
of necessity and proportionality, and to take measures to ensure that they comply fully with their obligations under
The lack of security and continued violence in Iraq limits every day life of Iraqis and their right to enjoy basic human
rights. Amnesty International urges all parties in Iraq to fully meet their obligations under international law, and end
the spiralling cycle of violence and impunity.
People come first - Protect Human Rights: Iraq Crisis home page at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacH6Nabat70bb0hPub/