Protesters set wall of Iranian consulate in Karbala on fire

The killing of Iraqi anti-government activist Ihab Al Wazniprompted demonstrators to block roads and bridges with burning tyres

TOPSHOT - Mourners react as they march during a funerary procession for renowned Iraqi anti-government activist Ihab al-Wazni (Ehab al-Ouazni) in the central holy shrine city of Karbala on May 9, 2021 following his assassination. Wazni, a coordinator of protests in the Shiite shrine city of Karbala, was a vocal opponent of corruption, the stranglehold of Tehran-linked armed groups and Iran's influence in Iraq. He was shot overnight outside his home by men on motorbikes, in an ambush caught on surveillance cameras. He had narrowly escaped death in December 2019, when men on motorbikes used silenced weapons to kill fellow activist Fahem al-Tai as he was dropping him home in Karbala, where pro-Tehran armed groups are legion. / AFP / Mohammed SAWAF
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Protesters set fire to trailers belonging to Iran’s consulate in Karbala on Sunday, amid widespread anger over the killing of a prominent anti-government activist in the Iraqi city.

Ihab Al Wazni, who was active in the organization of anti-government protests that swept Iraq in October 2019, was shot overnight outside his home by unknown assailants.

His death sparked daylong protests in Karbala that saw demonstrators block roads and bridges with burning tyres.

On Sunday night, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Iranian consulate, burning tyres in front of the building and setting fire to several trailers parked outside, according to police officials and videos posted online.

Similar scenes played out in November 2019 during protests in Baghdad and Iraq’s majority-Shiite provinces in the south, with protesters on at least one occasion scaling concrete barriers ringing the Iranian consulate in Karbala to bring down Iran’s flag and replace it with the Iraqi flag.

The popular protests that began in October 2019 and lasted for months were directed at a postwar political system and a class of elite leaders that Iraqis accuse of pillaging Iraq’s wealth while the country grows poorer.

But protesters have also directed their rage at neighboring Iran and the powerful Iraqi Shiite militias tied to it.

The protests in Karbala, Baghdad and cities across southern Iraq often turned violent, with security forces opening fire and protesters torching government buildings and headquarters of Iran-backed militias. Hundreds were killed, including the assassination of activists.