Iran news: Protestors massacred by security forces after consulate burnt down | World | News


security forces shot dead 16 people in the massacre in the southern city of Nassiriya today, according to medical sources. Violence escalated after weeks of protests against what many see as a corrupt Baghdad propped up by

Officials imposed a curfew in the nearby city of Najaf where the consulate was destroyed in what is being seen as the strongest showing of aggression against Iran by Iraqi demonstrators.

The inability of Iraq’s government and political class to deal with the unrest and answer protesters’ demands has fuelled public anger.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has promised electoral and anti-corruption reform but barely begun delivering while security forces have shot dead hundreds of mostly peaceful demonstrators in the streets of Baghdad and southern cities.

The protests, which began in Baghdad on October 1 and have spread through southern cities, 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.

Young, mostly Shi’ite protesters say politicians are corrupt, beholden to foreign powers – especially Iran – and they blame them for a failure to recover from years of conflict despite relative calm since the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.

Security forces opened fire on protesters who had gathered on a bridge in Nassiriya before dawn, medical sources said.

Sixteen were killed and dozens wounded, they said. A curfew was imposed in Najaf after protesters stormed and set fire to the Iranian consulate late on Wednesday. Businesses and government offices remained closed in the city, state media reported.

 

“The burning of the consulate last night was a brave act and a reaction from the Iraqi people – we don’t want the Iranians,” said Ali, a protester in Najaf. “There will be revenge from Iran I’m sure, they’re still here and the security forces are going

to keep shooting us.”

A protester who witnessed the burning of the consulate said security forces had opened fire to try to stop it.

He said: “All the riot police in Najaf and the security forces started shooting at us, as if we were burning Iraq as a whole.”

The military commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an umbrella grouping of paramilitary groups whose most powerful factions are close to Tehran, said the groups would use full force against anyone trying to attack Iraq’s most powerful Shi’ite cleric, who is based in Najaf.

“We will cut the hand of anyone trying to get near (Grand Ayatollah Ali) al-Sistani,” commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said in a statement on the PMF website. Observers said the events in Najaf would likely bring a tough response, rather than pushing the government into enacting reforms.

“Apart from casual statements … the government has not announced any plan (or) given any clear account of what measures it will take,” said Dhiaa al-Asadi, advisor to powerful populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. “Initiatives are going to be scarce.”



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