Protesters torch Iran’s consulate in Najaf

Updated November 28, 2019

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NAJAF (Iraq): Demonstrators set the Iranian consulate on fire during ongoing anti-government agitation.—Reuters
NAJAF (Iraq): Demonstrators set the Iranian consulate on fire during ongoing anti-government agitation.—Reuters

BAGHDAD: Anti-govern­ment protesters burned down the Iranian consulate building in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf on Wednesday.

One protester was killed and at least 35 people were wounded when police fired live ammunition to prevent them from entering the building, a police official said.

The demonstrators removed the Iranian flag from the building and replaced it with an Iraqi one.

Iranian staff were not harmed and escaped the building from the back door and authorities imposed a curfew in Najaf.

The incident marked an escalation in the demonstrations that have raged in Baghdad and across mostly Shia southern Iraq since Oct 1.

The protesters accuse the Iraqi government of being hopelessly corrupt and complain of poor public services and high unemployment.

They are also decrying growing Iranian influence in Iraqi state affairs.

South in turmoil

The burning of the Iranian consulate followed tense days in southern Iraq, where protesters have burned tyres and cut access to main roads in several provinces.

In Karbala, four protesters were killed by live fire from security forces in the previous 24 hours.

Three of the anti-government protesters were killed when security forces fired live rounds to disperse crowds late on Tuesday, security and medical officials said.

One protester died of wounds suffered when a tear gas canister struck him in clashes earlier in the day.

Protesters have largely kept away from threatening Iraq’s economy, but in the southern city of Basra daily closures of the two main Gulf commodities port has caused disruptions to trade activity, a port official said.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2019