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Basra protests: Rioters attack Iran consulate

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Rioters attacked the building after days of violent protests

Protesters have torched the Iranian consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra amid large protests against corruption and lack of basic services.

Crowds in the streets of the Shia Muslim-majority city chanted against Iranian influence on Iraqi politics.

It is the fifth day of violent protests in the country’s second city, with at least nine people killed.

Iran, the region’s main Shia power, has fostered ties with Iraq’s Shia majority since Saddam Hussein’s downfall.

Separately on Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would speed up the release of funds intended to improve basic services in Basra.

Iraq’s most senior Shia figure, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, blamed the unrest on political leaders and called for a new government “different from its predecessors”.

During Thursday’s protests, demonstrators burned local government buildings and political offices and forced the closure of Umm Qasr, the country’s main sea port to the south of Basra.

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Nine protesters were killed this week

Anger in Basra has grown over the lack of jobs, electricity and safe drinking water, with hundreds hospitalised after drinking contaminated water.

Local residents say the government is corrupt and has allowed infrastructure to virtually collapse in the region that generates much of Iraq’s oil wealth.

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