Iraq marks anniversary of 1988 chemical bombings

The anniversary of the 1988 chemical bombings of Iraqi Kurds by Saddam Hussein’s regime was recently marked in Halabja, Iraq.

“We cannot forget the time we lived in the shadow of one of the worst dictators of the world,” Halabja’s mayor, Kdher Kareem said, according to

The bombing claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people and injured at least 10,000. Tens of thousands responded by fleeing the area for the Iranian border, taking refuge in makeshift camps, according to

Hundreds came to Halabja to mourn the victims of the attack. Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Barham Salih was present and gave a speech. During the speech, Salih was heckled by two men, one of whom took aim at the prime minister with his prosthetic leg.

Taking the incident in stride, Salih later spoke with the men and listened to their complaints.

“They are our people," Salih said, according to "I have to listen to them. I have to answer their needs. I am proud of what we have done in Halabja. Look at Halabja today compared to what it was years before."

Kareem witnessed the aftermath of the bombing raids and later went on to appear as a witness in the trial of the man known as Chemical Ali, who would later be executed for his role.

In the town square, 1,000 protestors gathered to voice their displeasure about the government, despite warnings from security forces and the mayor’s office. Some recent anti-government protests have turned violent, claiming the life of one police officer.

Despite the protest ban, the demonstrations this day were largely peaceable and were carried on without incident, said.