BASRA, Iraq, AP – About 500 followers of a Shiite cleric attacked the Iranian consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Wednesday, throwing stones and setting fire to a building in the diplomatic complex.
The Iranian Embassy in Baghdad confirmed the attack on its consulate in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, about 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, but said it had no idea who was behind the violence. It said no casualties were reported.
The crowd was composed of followers of Shiite cleric Mahmoud al-Hassani and apparently was protesting a program shown on Iranian television that accused him of being an Israeli agent, police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim said.
The protesters broke the main gate and threw stones at the building. They also set fire to an annex used as a reception room and destroyed a car belonging to the consulate, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene.
One Iraqi climbed to the building’s roof and pulled down the Iranian flag, raising the Iraqi flag in its place.