Iraqi protesters set fire to Iranian consulate in Basra

Al Jazeera News:  

Angry protesters have stormed the Iranian consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, setting a fire inside as part of ongoing demonstrations against lack of services and jobs that have turned deadly in recent days.

Demonstrators on Friday attacked the building, which is located in the southern part of Basra, prompting security forces to open fire to quell the protests.

At least two protesters have died over the past two days, taking the death toll to 11 since the weeks-long unrest escalated on September 3.

The southern city has been the epicentre of protests that have rocked Iraq since July, with anger fuelled by pollution of the water supply that left 30,000 people in hospital

Crowds have attacked the offices of the state-run Iraqiya TV and set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Dawa Party, the Supreme Islamic Council and the Badr Organisation, whose leaders are all vying to form Iraq’s ruling coalition.

Protesters also torched the offices of a powerful Shia armed group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and those of the Hikma Movement, and stormed the house of the acting head of the provincial council.

Rights activists have accused security forces of opening fire on the demonstrators, while the government has blamed provocateurs in the crowds and say the troops were ordered not to use live rounds.

Public anger has grown at a time when politicians are struggling to form a new government after an inconclusive parliamentary election in May.

Residents of the south complain of decades of neglect in the region that produces the bulk of Iraq’s oil wealth.