Iraq: Swedish embassy in Baghdad burned down

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and set it on fire on Thursday morning, as a rally at which a Koran was to be burned on Thursday was authorized in Stockholm.

Sweden’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Swedish embassy staff in Baghdad were safe, condemned the attack and stressed the need for Iraqi authorities to protect diplomatic missions.

Demonstrations have been called by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr to protest renewed Quran burnings in Sweden, according to messages published in a Telegram group linked to the powerful Shiite imam.

Swedish news agency TT reported on Wednesday that Swedish police had cleared a rally outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday, where organizers planned to burn Qurans and the Iraqi flag.

According to the agency, two people will have to participate in this meeting. One of them burned a copy of the Quran in front of the Great Mosque in Stockholm last month.

Videos released on Telegram showed people gathering around the embassy at around 01:00 on Thursday (2200 GMT Wednesday) and attacking the building an hour later.

In other videos, smoke is seen rising from the building.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of these videos.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also condemned the incident and announced that the government had ordered an investigation.

Security forces were deployed at the embassy and firefighters extinguished the last embers on Thursday morning, according to Reuters witnesses.

(Reporting by Timur Azhari; French edition by Camille Renaud)

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