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Iraq Decries Torching Of Iran's Consulate In Shiite Najaf

Demonstrators gather as flames start consuming Iran's consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf on November 27.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry has condemned an attack on Iran's consulate in the southern city of Najaf, the country's state news agency reported early on November 28, citing the ministry.

The previous day's attack, during which protesters set the diplomatic building on fire, was "aimed at damaging the historical relations between Iraq and Iran and with rest of the countries," the ministry said.

The statement stressed that the attack didn't reflect Iraq's perspective, saying that "diplomatic missions operating in Iraq are highly respected and appreciated."

Demonstrators have been angry at Tehran, which they blame for supporting a government they have been protesting against for nearly two months.

Chanting "Victory to Iraq" and "Iran out" the protesters stormed the consulate late on November 27 and set the entire building ablaze, police and civil-defense source were quoted as saying.

They said staff at the consulate had evacuated the facility before the attack occurred.

Security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to try to disperse the protesters, some reports said.

State media reported that the authorities announced a curfew shortly after the incident, which comes amid a wave of anti-government protests that erupted in early October over corruption and poor government services, leaving more than 340 people dead.

Najaf Governor Luay al-Yassiry also announced that work in state institutions will be suspended on November 28, according to the Iraqi News Agency.

Protesters have taken to the streets of the capital, Baghdad, and Iraq’s Shi'ite-majority south, calling for the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament, and an overhaul of the country's political system.

Many protesters have directed their anger at Shi'ite-majority Iran, which has maintained close ties to political parties and paramilitary groups that dominate Iraq's state institutions and parliament.

Iran's consulate in the Iraqi city of Karbala was targeted by protesters earlier this month, and security forces defending the site shot four demonstrators dead at the time.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa