Saad Maan said on Sunday that security forces did not confront the protesters, adding that “malicious hands” were behind targeting protesters and security members alike, AP reported.
He said protesters had burned 51 public buildings and eight political party headquarters. Maan further confirmed that 104 people had been killed, including eight security officers, and more than 6,000 wounded in the protests.
The protests began last Tuesday, with demonstrators calling for better living conditions. The rallies soon turned into riots as some protesters started vandalizing public properties and attempted to enter the Green Zone in the capital Baghdad -- which houses government offices and foreign diplomatic missions.
According to the spokesman, most of those killed on Friday had been shot in the head or heart, a sign that skilled snipers had carried out the killings.
Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, called on Saturday for an end to the protests, saying he was ready to meet protesters to hear their demands. He said there were orders for the security forces not to use live ammunition except in strict cases of self-defense.
"We can't accept the continuation of the situation like this," Abdul-Mahdi told his Cabinet late Saturday. "We hear of snipers, firebombs, burning a policeman, a citizen."
Parliament speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi echoed the premier's remarks, saying that "infiltrators" were wreaking havoc. He said the parliament had formed a committee to investigate the matter.