Relatives of Iraqi soldiers missing since June storm Baghdad parliament
Over 200 furious relatives of missing Iraqi soldiers stormed Baghdad’s parliament building on Tuesday, demanding accountability for the army commanders who were in charge when their family members disappeared.
They attacked members of parliament and staged a sit-in for several hours in the house’s main chamber, a parliamentary official said.
Relatives were demanding information about their relatives, army personnel who have not been seen since June, after a bloody battle at the Speicher army base in the north-western city of Tikrit.
The group that now dubs itself Islamic State claimed to have killed hundreds of students from the air force college at Speicher, publishing gruesome pictures purporting to show a mass execution of people in civilian clothing - 1,700 students from the college remain missing.
Hundreds of their relatives stormed the building calling for commanders to be held accountable for the attack, according to the official, who was present in parliament.
Relatives have previously held several demonstrations demanding that military leaders in charge during the attack be held legally responsible.
The brother of one of the missing soldiers claimed on 25 August that his relative had left the camp 12 days before the alleged massacre, and demanded that the government provide them with answers within days.
The parliamentary source on Tuesday accused the family members of attacking parliamentary staff and smashing chairs in the building’s cafeteria.
The families also shouted slogans and raised banners in the building’s foyer.
Parliament had convened to discuss the issue on Tuesday, but the building was stormed before the start of the session.
Guards entrusted with protecting the parliament building had withdrawn shortly before the attack, reports Iraqi news site al-Baghdadia.
The protesters later left the building and parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi met with their representatives at his home, the official said.
An emergency session of parliament, with relatives in attendance, will be held on Wednesday, Juburi's office said in a statement.
“The session [on Wednesday] will…hold to account all negligent officials from the security services”, according to Juburi’s statement.
Nouri al-Maliki, who was Prime Minister at the time of the event, and Saadoun al-Dulaimi, current Defence Minister, will be in attendance, reported Iraqi news site al-Najaf.