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27 Nov 2019 | 03:10 PM UTC

Iraq: Protesters set fire to Iranian consulate in Najaf November 27 /update 69

Protesters set fire to Iranian consulate in Najaf on November 27; authorities impose curfew

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Event

Protesters reportedly set fire to the Iranian consulate in Najaf on Wednesday, November 27. No casualties were reported among staff at the consulate, all of whom had evacuated prior to the incident. Security forces fired live ammunition to disperse crowds outside the building, wounding at least 33 people. Authorities in Najaf immediately declared a curfew following the attack.

At least six people were killed on Wednesday amid ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad and Karbala. Two were killed and 35 others wounded after security forces fired live rounds on protesters on Al-Rasheed Street, near Ahrar bridge. In Karbala, four protesters were killed after being struck by live rounds and tear gas canisters between Tuesday evening (local time), November 26, and Wednesday evening.

Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in Baghdad, Najaf, and other major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. Disruptions to internet and telecommunications services are also expected to continue amid the unrest. Clashes between protesters and security forces are likely near all protest sites.

Context

Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1 to protest perceived government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relative calm, demonstrations violently resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government to produce a report on who in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 340 people have been killed and 15,000 wounded since protests began.

Advice

Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in areas affected by anti-government demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.

The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.