Iraqi authorities have announced curfew in the holy city of Najaf after masked assailants attacked and set fire on the Iranian consulate.
The rioters entered the compound and torched the entire consulate building late Wednesday, police and civil defense sources said.
The staff members at the Iranian consulate had been evacuated under heavy protection just before the building was set on fire, according to the Iraqi police.
According to reports, nearly 50 security forces sustained injuries during the clashes with the masked assailants.
Shortly after the incident, the Iraqi authorities declared curfew in the city and closed the roads linking the city with neighboring provinces.
Israeli journalist and political analyst Edy Cohen took to his Twitter account immediately after the attack on the Iranian consulate, and asked his followers which one they would choose: peaceful demonstrations or subversive ones when it came to countering Iran.
So far, the majority of respondents (82%) have chosen the “peaceful” option.
Cohen had earlier in October called for an “Iraqi revolution” against what he called “the Iranian occupation”.
Back on November 3, another group of assailants had scaled the concrete barriers surrounding Iran’s Karbala consulate and spray-painted scurrilous writings on its perimeter walls.
Some other rioters also threw stones and burned tires around the Iranian consulate building, prompting Iraqi security forces to fire in the air to disperse the crowd.
In reaction to the Karbala incident, Iran urged the Baghdad government to take all necessary measures to protect Tehran’s diplomatic missions in Iraq.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemned the attack on the Iranian consulate building, and said the Islamic Republic “has conveyed its concerns to the host government through political channels and stressed the importance of guaranteeing the security of Iran’s diplomatic and consular missions in Iraq within the framework of international regulations and conventions.”
At the start of October, street protests erupted in several Iraqi cities over unemployment and a lack of basic services.
The rallies resumed on October 25 after a pause of about two weeks, but took a violent turn. Over 150 people lost their lives in the first round, according to official figures.
Police and medics estimate that over 300 people have been killed and thousands more wounded so far during Iraq protests.
-curfew in Najaf