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Monday, January 25, 2021

Iraqi forces kill several protesters after Iranian consulate torched

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Iraqi forces kill several protesters after Iranian consulate torched
Iraqi forces kill several protesters after Iranian consulate torched

Iraqi security forces shot dead 16 protesters in the southern city of Nassiriya on Thursday, medical sources said, and authorities imposed a curfew in Najaf after demonstrators burned its Iranian consulate.

Mia Womersley reports

Iraqi security forces shot several protesters dead in the southern city of Nassiriya on Thursday (November 28), medical sources said.

Amid cries of "this blood, this is Iraqi blood".

And in the holy city of Najaf, authorities imposed a curfew after demonstrators set fire to an Iranian consulate late on Wednesday (November 27).

And set up joint military-civilian "crisis cells" to try to stem the unrest.

One protester told Reuters what happened.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER, SAYING: ''Young men burned it (the consulate).

When it was set on fire, all the riot police in Najaf and the security forces started firing on us, as if we were burning Iraq as a whole.

The riot police fired tear gas canisters intensively and the security forces showered us heavily with live bullets.'' The torching of the consulate escalated violence in Iraq after weeks of mass demonstrations and hundreds of deaths.

Young, mostly Shi'ite protesters say politicians are corrupt and beholden to foreign powers - especially Iran.

They blame them for a failure to recover from years of conflict, despite relative calm since the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has promised electoral and anti-corruption reform.

But he barely began delivering on his word as security forces shot dead hundreds of mostly peaceful demonstrators in the streets of Baghdad and southern cities.

The protests are the most complex challenge facing the Shi'ite-dominated ruling class that has controlled state institutions and patronage networks since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled long-time Sunni ruler Saddam Hussein.

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