Protesters torch Iranian consulate in Basra

Protesters torch Iranian consulate in Basra

Protesters torch Iranian consulate in Basra

Protesters have attacked government and other key buildings in the southern Iraqi city of Basra as thousands again took to the streets, angry over corruption and the lack of services.

Protesters peacefully left a water treatment facility linked to Iraq's West Qurna 2 oilfield, managed by Russia's Lukoil, and released two Iraqi employees they had held hostage, a Lukoil source and a source with Basra's police said.

Outraged demonstrators, shouting "Iran out", torched the Iranian consulate after security forces withdrew, as NPR's Jane Arraf reported.

Protests first broke out in July in oil-rich Basra province before spreading to other parts of the country, with demonstrators also condemning corruption among Iraqi officials and demanding jobs.

Iraqi protesters are seen in front of the burnt Iranian Consulate in Basra, Iraq September 7, 2018.

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The Basra Operations Command confirmed to Reuters calling off the curfew, which was due to start at 3pm local time (12:00GMT) as a measure to quell weeks-long protests which had intensified over the past week.

Elsewhere in the city, protesters tried to attack the headquarters of Assaib Ahl Al-Haq Shiite militia and the guards stationed there opened fire.

At least seven people have been killed this week alone.

Iraqi protesters chant slogans outside the municipal buildings of Basra.

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.

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The government accused "saboteurs" among the protesters of vandalizing public property, while protesters accuse security forces of using live ammunition to disperse peaceful demonstrations.

"At one point", al-Shammari added, "gunmen in a white vehicle killed a number of demonstrators, prompting the authorities to impose a curfew".

Residents in Basra, a city of more than 2 million people, say the water supply has become contaminated with salt, making them vulnerable and desperate in the hot summer months.

He said the "failure of Iraqi politicians over the past years is what caused the anger of the people in Basra, so this time a government must be formed by new standards based on technocrats".

Incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi convened an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss the unrest and ordered the Interior Ministry to conduct an immediate investigation into the protest.

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The prime minister responded that he would be ready to attend a meeting of parliament with the ministers and officials concerned to try to find a resolution.

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