Iraqi forces kill 28 demonstrators after they block bridge
BAGHDAD/NAJAF: Iraqi security forces shot dead at least 28 protesters on Thursday after demonstrators stormed and torched an Iranian consulate overnight, in what could mark a turning point in the uprising against the Tehran-backed authorities.
At least 24 people died when troops opened fire on demonstrators who blocked a bridge in the southern city of Nassiriya before dawn on Thursday. Medical sources said dozens of others were wounded.
Four others were killed in the capital Baghdad, where security forces opened fire with live ammunition and rubber bullets against protesters near a bridge over the Tigris river.
The incidents marked one of the bloodiest days since the uprising began at the start of October with anti-corruption demonstrations that have since swelled into a revolt against authorities scorned by young demonstrators as stooges of Tehran.
In Najaf, a city of ancient pilgrimage shrines that serves as seat of Iraq's powerful Shi'ite clergy, the Iranian consulate was reduced to a charred ruin after it was stormed overnight. Protesters accused the Iraqi authorities of turning against their own people to defend Iran. "All the riot police in Najaf and the security forces started shooting at us as if we were burning Iraq as a whole," a protester who witnessed the burning of the consulate told Reuters, asking that he not be identified.
Another protester, Ali, described the attack on the consulate as "a brave act and a reaction from the Iraqi people. We don't want the Iranians."
But he predicted more violence: "There will be revenge from Iran, I'm sure. They're
still here and the security
forces are going to keep shooting at us."