At 6:30 am on Monday morning, Moutah Slemane, a resident of Al Amarah in southern Iraq, witnessed a bomb explosion — just one of the many fatal attacks that took place in the country in April. Stunned but safe, he picked himself up and started filming the chaos unfolding around him.
April has been the bloodiest month in Iraq since 2008. More than 460 people were killed; half of that number died in just one week.
Since December 2013, Sunni-led protests against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have rocked several regions in Iraq. Protesters claim to be victims of discrimination since Saddam Hussein’s fall from power in 2003, which resulted in Shiite-dominated governments as Iraq is primarily a Shiite country.
Sectarian tensions in Iraq have flared in the last few weeks, following the April 23rd attack launched by security forces against a group of Sunni opposition members in northern Iraq. This operation has prompted reprisal attacks against Iraqi forces.
On Monday, a day marked by five attacks that caused 26 deaths — including 13 in the city where this video was filmed — the head of parliament, Oussama Al-Noujaïfi, who is Sunni, called for the resignation of Nouri al-Maliki’s government.
WARNING: THESE IMAGES MAY BE SHOCK VIEWERS.
Video edited by FRANCE 24.
“I immediately decided to film the scene because I knew that, very quickly, ambulances would come to take away the bodies”
Moutah Slemane lives in Al Amarah. He is the technical director of an oil company in Al Amarah, a primarily Shiite city hit by two attacks on April 29.
Just like I do every morning, I was walking by city hall a little before 6:30 a.m. And, as is often the case, I chatted with some of the garbage collectors who meet in front of city hall before going off to work. I then walked about 50 metres to the spot where I wait for the bus that picks up employees from my company. At this moment, a car parked right in front of city hall exploded. I was knocked over by the force of the blast. I fell to the ground, with an overwhelming ringing sound in my ears.When I rose, I saw that I had been scratched up. There was chaos all around. I immediately decided to film the scene with my mobile phone because I knew that, very quickly, ambulances would come to take away the bodies of the victims and the injured and that all signs of the attack would be erased. I wanted to film this video as proof of the horror I witnessed.As I walked along, I saw that the janitors had been hit. I saw the corpses of people I knew well. The explosion had burned through the clothes of some of them. Others were injured, lying on the ground. Had the bomb gone off a couple minutes earlier, I, too, would have been grievously injured. Very quickly, I stopped filming to help the wounded and cover up those who were dead.About 15 minutes later, a second explosion occurred just in front of the city’s marketplace. [Seven people were killed and 34 injured in this explosion].Since the attack, I’ve had strong migraines and a buzzing in my ears. Still, I went back to the site of the bombing. As I imagined, everything was all cleaned up, which is why I felt it was important to share this video on Facebook.Such attacks are rare in this area, which is 300 kilometres south of the capital. I may be Iraqi, but these scenes are not part of our daily life in this region of the country. Usually, I see this kind of carnage on television, where the most disturbing images are removed. But this time, I saw the horror in full.