Protesters in Iraq set fire to Iranian consulate
Angry protesters stormed the Iranian consulate in the southern city of Basra on Friday, setting a fire inside amid a wave of demonstrations that have turned deadly in the past few days, a security official and eyewitnesses said.
At least 10 protesters have died in clashes with security forces since Monday, including three who were shot dead by security forces Thursday night as protesters lobbed Molotov cocktails and set fire to a government building and offices of Shiite militias in the city.
The protests in Basra and other cities, the most serious to shake Iraq’s oil-rich southern Shiite heartland in years, have since July been calling for an end to endemic corruption, soaring joblessness and poor public services. Clashes erupted earlier this week, leaving several civilians and police dead. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an investigation into the violence, which shows no sign of abating.
The violence prompted the temporary head of Iraq’s parliament, the eldest lawmaker, to call an emergency meeting today to discuss the snowballing protests.
The protesters shouted anti-Iranian slogans outside the Iranian consulate Friday evening, including “Iran, out, out!” before they stormed it and set a fire inside. Smoke could be seen rising from the building. Protesters also burned an Iranian flag.