On December 6, 2019, an unidentified individual shot Ahmed Muhana al-Lami, a photographer, in the back while he was covering protests in Baghdad’s Al-Khilani Square, according to a hospital document shared on social media and an interview with the paramedic who treated al-Lami’s wounds, which was posted to social media.
Al-Lami was among at least 14 people killed in Baghdad on December 6 when unidentified gunmen in cars fired on protesters, according to news reports.
He was transferred to Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Baghdad, where he died of his wounds shortly afterwards, according to a statement by the Media Directorate of the Popular Mobilization Units, a state-sponsored group consisting of 40 mostly Shia militias, for which he had worked as a photographer and camera operator.
At least two police officers were among those killed in Baghdad on December 6, and security forces said they had not identified the perpetrators, according to Reuters. Protesters and two unidentified Iraqi officials told The Associated Press they believed that recent attacks on demonstrators had been orchestrated by Iranian-backed militias.
A video widely circulated on social media after al-Lami’s death showed his broken camera with what appeared to be a bullet hole.
Al-Lami previously covered the Iraqi government’s military campaign to retake control of territory held by the militant group Islamic State between 2015 and 2017, according to the Popular Mobilization Units statement. He had been covering the protests in Baghdad since they broke out in October, posting his photos on social media. His posts regularly received thousands of likes and comments, according to CPJ’s review of his Facebook page.
Initial news reports and the Popular Mobilization Units statement claimed that the journalist was stabbed, but the paramedic said al-Lami had a gunshot wound near his spine, and said there was no evidence of stab wounds.
As of late 2019, hundreds had been killed in protests that began in Iraq in October over a lack of basic services, unemployment, and government corruption, according to news reports.