Iraqi protesters torched the Iranian consulate in the southern city of Basra on Friday in new demonstrations for poor public services after parliament convened an emergency session on the riots.
Unidentified assailants also fired missiles into the fortified green area of Baghdad in a rare attack on an area that houses the parliament, government offices and the US embassy. UU There were no victims.
Basra has seen an increase in protests since Tuesday, with protesters setting fire to government buildings and offices of political parties and militias, while the anger fades after the hospitalization of 30,000 people who had drunk contaminated water.
At least nine protesters have been killed since then in clashes with security forces, said Mehdi al-Tamimi, head of Basra's human rights council.
In an attempt to calm the violence, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Friday night that he had ordered the security forces to "act decisively against the acts of vandalism that accompanied the demonstrations."
The Joint Operations Command in Iraq, which includes the army and police, said in a statement that there would be a "severe" response with "exceptional security measures," including a ban on protests and group travel.
& # 39; Sick & Abandoned & # 39;
The wave of protests erupted in the oil-rich Basra province in July before spreading to other parts of the country, and protesters also condemned corruption among Iraqi officials and demanded jobs.
"We are thirsty, we are hungry, we are sick and abandoned," protester Ali Hussein told AFP on Friday after another night of violence.
"Demonstrating is a sacred duty and all honest people should join."
Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Iranian consulate on Friday as hundreds of them assaulted the building and set it on fire, an AFP photographer said.
A spokesman for the consulate said all diplomats and employees were evacuated from the building before the demonstrators attacked, and none of them was injured.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry called the attack on the consulate "an unacceptable act that undermines the interests of Iraq and its international relations."
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi denounced the incident as a "savage attack," according to the Iranian news agency Fars.
Iran is a key agent of power in Iraq and it is known that many of the militias and political parties whose offices were set on fire on Thursday are close to the Islamic republic.
Parliament said lawmakers and ministers, including Abadi, will meet on Saturday to discuss the water pollution crisis, the latest failure in public services to infuriate residents.
The meeting was demanded by the populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose political bloc won the most seats in the May elections, although a new government has not yet been formed.
Sadr, whose supporters staged protests within the Green Zone in 2016 to condemn corruption among Iraqi officials, called for "peaceful rage demonstrations" in Basra after the main weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.
And the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraq's Shia majority, in his sermon on Friday denounced "the bad behavior of senior officials" and called for the next government to be "different from its predecessors."
At least 24 people have been killed in demonstrations since they broke out in Basra on July 8.
& # 39; Excessive Force & # 39;
Human rights activists have accused security forces of opening fire on protesters.
But the government has blamed the provocateurs in the crowds and said the troops have been ordered not to use live rounds.
Amnesty International denounced on Friday "the excessive use of force by the security forces" and called for an investigation into the deaths.
The anger in the streets of Basra was "in response to the government's intentional policy of abandonment" of the oil-rich region, said the head of the region's human rights council, Tamimi.
Abadi has struggled to quell anger and authorities have already pledged a multimillion-dollar emergency plan to reactivate infrastructure and services in southern Iraq.
But Iraqis remain deeply skeptical as the country remains in a state of political limbo.
Sadr called on Thursday for politicians to present "radical and immediate" solutions at the parliament's emergency meeting or resign if they do not.
Abadi, meanwhile, is trying to stay in office in the next government by forming an alliance with Sadr, a former militia chief who has asked Iraq to have greater political independence from both Iran and the United States.