19:52 GMT19 February 2020
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    TEHRAN (Sputnik) - Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim on Thursday apologized for the recent attack on the Iranian consulate in Iraq’s southern city of Najaf in phone talks with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister said in a statement.

    "After the attack on the Iranian consulate general in Najaf, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim apologized for the malicious actions and reaffirmed his country's commitment to protecting diplomatic facilities and Iranian diplomats during a telephone conversation with the Iranian Foreign Minister", the statement said.

    On Wednesday, protesters gathered in front of the consulate and set fire to the building. Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said that Tehran strongly disapproved of these actions. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack, adding that it sought to harm bilateral relations.

    Witnesses said that dozens of demonstrators were injured in ensuing clashes with security officers close to the consulate. According to a security source, more than 80 people were injured. A curfew was imposed in the province in response to these developments.

    Similar violent protests have been rocking southern Iraq since early October. Over 350 people have been killed and some 15,000 others injured so far. The people are rallying against corruption, low living standards and unemployment.

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