Iraqi security forces shot dead at least 30 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 29 people died in the southern city of Nassiriya when troops opened fire on demonstrators who blocked a bridge before dawn on Thursday and later gathered outside a police station. 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. Two died during the day in clashes in Najaf.
In Nassiriya thousands of mourners took to the streets, defying a curfew to bury their dead after the mass shooting.
Video of protesters cheering in the night as bright flames billowed from the consulate were a stunning image after years in which Tehran’s influence among Shi’ite Muslims in Arab states has been a defining factor in Middle East politics.
The bloodshed that followed was one of the most violent days since the uprising began at the start of October, with anti-corruption demonstrations that 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,…