News:

Staff evacuated as Iraq protesters set fire on Iran consulate in Najaf, Baghdad, Tehran condemn the attack

Staff at the Iranian consulate evacuated safely before the attack in the holy city, which was later placed under a curfew, state media reported.

Anti-government protesters stormed and set the Iranian consulate ablaze in the southern city of Najaf on Wednesday, drawing condemnation from Iraq's government, as the political turmoil continues to escalate.

The attack was the strongest expression yet of the anti-Iranian sentiment by Iraqi demonstrators, who have taken to the streets for weeks in the capital Baghdad and Shia-Muslim-majority south - and have been shot in their hundreds by Iraqi security forces.

Staff at the Iranian consulate evacuated safely before the attack in the holy city, which was later placed under a curfew, state media reported.

On Thursday, Iraq's state news agency quoted the foreign ministry as condemning the attack on the diplomatic facility.

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from the capital Baghdad said: "What we're being told by eyewitnesses is that protesters surrounded the Iranian consulate in Najaf and they then set fire either to the building itself or the fence that surrounds the building."

"But we're still awaiting more details about it, specifically."

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 told The Associated Press.

Demonstrators removed the Iranian flag from the building and replaced it with an Iraqi one. Iranian consulate staff escaped the building from the back door, unharmed.

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

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

They also decry growing Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs. Iran-backed political parties and paramilitary groups dominate state institutions and Parliament.

Iran on Thursday demanded Iraq take decisive action against "aggressors".

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, quoted by state news agency IRNA, condemned the attack and "demanded decisive, effective and responsible action... against destructive agents and aggressors".


Source; Aljazeera

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