Iraq’s parliament has been stormed by hundreds of Shia Muslim in protest against ongoing deadlock in approving a new cabinet.
Supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr broke through barricades of the protected Green Zone in Baghdad after lawmakers again failed to convene for a vote.
A state of emergency has been declared in Baghdad, but not a curfew.
Security forces near the US embassy later fired tear gas to stop more protesters entering the Green Zone.
Moqtada al-Sadr wants PM Haider al-Abadi to commit to a plan to replace ministers with non-partisan technocrats.
Powerful parties in parliament have refused to approve the change for several weeks.
Earlier this week, hundreds of thousands of people marched towards the Green Zone, the most secure part of Baghdad that houses embassies and government buildings, to protest against the political deadlock.
A new protest outside the zone escalated after parliament again failed to reach a quorum on April 30.
Groups marched on the district soon after the end of a televised appearance by Moqtada al-Sadr, although he did not call for the storming of parliament.
The protesters tried to topped lawmakers attempting to flee the building.
They are reported to have begun ransacking parliament buildings. UN and embassy staff were on lockdown inside their compounds, Reuters reported.
Iraq’s system of sharing government jobs has long been criticized for promoting unqualified candidates and encouraging corruption.
PM Haider al-Abadi, who came to power in 2014, has promised to stamp out corruption and ease sectarian tensions, but he has failed to far to introduce a new technocratic cabinet.
A survey by the Pew Research Centre in 2011 found that 51% of Iraqi Muslims identified themselves as Shia, compared with 42% Sunni.
Elsewhere in Baghdad, a car bomb targeted a group of Shia Muslim pilgrims on April 30, killing at least 21 people.
The Shia cleric and his militia group, the Mehdi Army, gained prominence after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. galvanizing anti-US sentiment.
Moqtada al-Sadr’s followers clashed repeatedly with US forces, whose withdrawal the cleric consistently demanded.
An arrest warrant was issued for Moqtada Sadr in 2004 in connection with the murder of a rival cleric.
Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia was also blamed for the torture and killing of thousands of Sunnis in the sectarian carnage of 2006 and 2007.
Saudi Arabia has decided to break off diplomatic ties with Iran, amid a row over the execution of Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in the Sunni Muslim kingdom, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir has announced.
Adel al-Jubeir was speaking after demonstrators had stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others were executed on January 2 after being convicted of terror-related offences.
Adel al-Jubeir said that all Iranian diplomats must leave Saudi Arabia within 48 hours.
Saudi Arabia was recalling its diplomats from Tehran, he said.
Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would not let Iran undermine its security, accusing it of having “distributed weapons and planted terrorist cells in the region”.
“Iran’s history is full of negative interference and hostility in Arab issues, and it is always accompanied by destruction,” he told a news conference.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said: “We will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions.”
“We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential,” he said.
Earlier on January 3, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Saudi Arabia would face “divine revenge” for the execution – an act which also angered Shia Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr a “martyr” who had acted peacefully.
Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran on January 2, setting fire to the building before being driven back by police. The Saudi foreign ministry said none of its diplomats had been harmed in the incident.
Iran is Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival – they back opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Relations between the countries have been strained over various issues in recent decades, including Iran’s nuclear program and deaths of Iranians at the Hajj pilgrimage in 1987 and again in 2015.
Most of the 47 people executed by Saudi Arabia were Sunnis convicted of involvement in al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks over the last decade.
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was involved in anti-government protests that erupted in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Arab Spring, up to his arrest in 2012.
The execution sparked new demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, where Shia Muslims complain of marginalization, as well as in Iraq, Bahrain and several other countries.
The top Shia cleric in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani denounced the execution as an “unjust aggression”.
The leader of Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, launched his sharpest attack yet on the Saudi ruling family on January 3, accusing them of seeking to ignite a Shia-Sunni civil war across the world.
Hassan Nasrallah said the blood of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr would “plague the Al Saud [family] until the Day of Resurrection”, prompting cries of “Death to the Al Saud!” among an audience watching his address.
At least 54 people have been killed and many others injured in a series of car bomb attacks in Iraqi cities Baghdad, Basra and Samarra, officials say.
Baghdad was worst hit, with nine explosions at bus stations and markets in the mainly Shia Muslim districts.
Two bombs went off earlier in the day in the southern city of Basra, and a blast in Samarra killed three people.
The attacks are part of the recent rise in violence in Iraq linked to growing political and sectarian tension.
Police said nearly 200 people were injured in Monday’s violence in Iraq. Eight Iranian pilgrims are reported to be among the dead.
One of the bloodiest attacks in Baghdad happened in the northern Shia neighborhood of Shaab, when a car bomb exploded near a crowded market place killing at least 12 people and wounding more than 20.
The bombs in Basra, a mainly Shia Muslim city, killed at least 14 outside a restaurant and the main bus station.
“We were sitting here waiting for work and as usual we gathered near a street food cart and the place was very crowded,” Basra resident Mohammed Ali, who was near one of the blasts, told Reuters news agency.
“I crossed the street to the other side when all of a sudden it turned dark, dust filled the area. I was showered with metal wreckage and wounded in my legs.”
At least 54 people have been killed and many others injured in a series of car bomb attacks in Iraqi cities Baghdad, Basra and Samarra
A further three people were killed and 15 wounded in a car bomb attack in Samarra, a city some 70 miles north of Baghdad. The blast reportedly happened near a gathering of members of the pro-government Sunni militia, the Awakening Council.
In a separate incident, 10 policemen kidnapped on Saturday in western Anbar province have been found dead.
No group has said it carried out Monday’s bomb attacks, but tension between the Shia Muslim majority, which leads the government, and minority Sunnis has been growing since last year.
Sunni demonstrators have accused the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of discriminating against them – something the government denies.
Iraqis have not witnessed violence on the scale of the last few weeks for nearly five years.
The Shia-Sunni fault line, with Syria currently at its epicentre, is certainly contributing.
But Iraqis do not see their own politicians doing enough to unite people on both sides of the sectarian divide, and they do not see the international community showing the urgency they think it should in averting further chaos.
Violence has increased since more than 50 people died in clashes between security forces and Sunni Arabs in April, when an anti-government protest camp was raided in Nawija near Kirkuk.
At least 60 people died in three bombings in Sunni Muslim areas in and around Baghdad on Friday. Those bombings followed deadly attacks on Shia targets across Iraq.
On Sunday, at least 10 policemen were reported killed in north-western Iraq in attacks blamed by the authorities on Sunni militants.
Basra had been seen as relatively peaceful, but there too, violence has risen in recent months.
In March, a car bomb in the city killed 10 and wounded many others. On Saturday gunmen there shot and killed a Sunni Muslim cleric.
The increasing number of incidents has raised fears that Iraq could return to the worst of the sectarian conflict seen in 2006 and 2007.
Fresh protests are taking place around the Muslim world over amateur anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims, which was produced in the US.
At least one protester was killed in violent protests in Pakistan and thousands attended an angry rally in the Philippines city of Marawi.
Weapons were fired and police cars torched in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has said the US faces “very dangerous” repercussions if it allows the full video to be released.
In a rare public appearance, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told a rally in the capital Beirut that the world did not understand the “breadth of the humiliation” caused by the “worst attack ever on Islam”.
Thousands of people were on the streets, waving flags and chanting: “America, hear us – don’t insult our Prophet”.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the influential leader of the Shia Muslim militant group, earlier called for a week of protests – not only against American embassies, but also to press Muslim governments to express their own anger to the US.
A trailer for the obscure, poorly made film at the centre of the row, entitled Innocence of Muslims, came to light in recent weeks and protests first erupted in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, last Tuesday.
More than a dozen people have died in protests since.
In Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the local press club was burnt down and government offices attacked in the Upper Dir district.
One protester was killed in an exchange of fire with police, following the death of another protester on Sunday.
A protest of thousands of students took place in the nearby city of Peshawar, reported AFP news agency.
In the biggest city, Karachi, police fired in the air to disperse a crowd heading for the US consulate, reported Reuters, and lawyers marched in Lahore.
At least one protester was killed in violent protests in Pakistan over anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the film was “wrong and offensive but also laughable as a piece of film-making – what is dangerous and wrong is the reaction to it”.
Tony Blair, who now serves as a Middle East peace envoy, said the protests were ultimately about the “struggle of modernization” under way in the region and not “some form of oppression by the West”.
The exact origins of the film are shrouded in mystery, although US authorities say they believe the film was made by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted fraudster living in California who has since been questioned over his role.
A trailer of the film is available on YouTube and the company said it would not remove it as it was within its guidelines.
But a spokesperson said YouTube had restricted access to the clip in countries where its content is illegal “such as India and Indonesia as well as in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries”.
The eruption of anger has seen attacks on US consulates, embassies and business interests across the Middle East and North Africa. British, Swiss, German and Dutch properties have also been targeted.
The US ambassador to Libya was among four Americans killed on the day protests first broke out.
Libyan Interior Minister Fawzi Abdul Al has dismissed a claim on Sunday by the president of the national congress that 50 people have been arrested in connection with the deaths.
He said only four people had been detained so far, although up to 50 could be under investigation.
• About 3,000 protesters burned US and Israeli flags in the southern Philippines city of Marawi
• In Yemen, hundreds of students in the capital, Sanaa, called for the expulsion of the US ambassador, said AFP
• In Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, hundreds of protesters faced off with police, throwing stones and petrol bombs, while police retaliated with tear gas
• More protests were reported in Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir
• Hundreds of Palestinians staged a peaceful sit-in protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah
• Angry demonstrators in the Afghan capital, Kabul, fired guns, torched police cars and shouted anti-US slogans
• A small protest was held outside the US embassy in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, AP reported.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shia Muslim militant group Hezbollah, has called for fresh protests in Lebanon on Monday over film Innocence of Muslims.
The world needed to know Muslims “would not be silent in the face of this insult”, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said.
Protests at many US diplomatic missions have been continuing over the film, which was made in the US.
One person was reportedly killed in clashes between protesters and police in Pakistan on Sunday.
In a speech broadcast on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV station, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah called for demonstrations on several days over the coming week.
The first is scheduled to take place on Monday afternoon in a southern suburb of Beirut which is a Hezbollah stronghold.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shia Muslim militant group Hezbollah, has called for fresh protests in Lebanon on Monday over film Innocence of Muslims
Sheikh Nasrallah branded the video the most dangerous insult to Islam ever, worse, he said, than Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses and the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which were published in a Danish newspaper in 2005.
He said he had waited for the Pope to complete his three-day official visit to Lebanon before speaking out on the matter.
“Those who should be held accountable, punished, prosecuted and boycotted are those directly responsible for this film and those who stand behind them and those who support and protect them, primarily the United States of America,” Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said.
He said that Arab and Islamic governments should press for an enforceable international law banning insults to Islam and other religions.
There have been protests over the film in Lebanon in recent days, but most have been reported from the northern city of Tripoli, which has a Sunni Muslim majority.
The obscure, poorly made film at the centre of the row, entitled Innocence of Muslims, depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a power-hungry and foolish man, and includes scenes of him having sex with his wife Khadija and other women.
The exact origins of the film are shrouded in mystery, although US authorities say they believe the film was made by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted fraudster living in California.
On Monday, more than 1,000 people were reported to be taking part in a demonstration against the film in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Some protesters were armed and have opened fire, but there were no reports of casualties, a senior security official said.
Two police vehicles have been set on fire on the Jalalabad road, home to NATO and US military bases.
Sunday’s clashes in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, occurred when protesters attempted to break through a barricade to the US consulate.
Police used tear gas and fired warning shots into the air in response to stone-throwing protesters.
A spokesman for the group that organized the rally told the Associated Press news agency that a protester had been killed in the clashes. Several other people were injured.
The US embassy in Islamabad announced on its Twitter feed that “all American personnel are safe and accounted for” at the consulate and thanked Pakistani police for their efforts in protecting it.
In the Danish capital, Copenhagen, a few hundred people held a vocal demonstration outside the US embassy.
Protesters directed invective not just towards the controversial video, but also at US military involvement in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Crowds also gathered outside the US consulate in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.
Anti-Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose party lost many of its seats in last week’s elections, has posted a link to the video on his website and encouraged his followers to do the same.
Also on Sunday, the president of Libya’s interim assembly said some 50 people had been arrested in connection with last week’s deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Mohamed Magarief told CBS News he had “no doubt” the attack was pre-planned, and that some of those who took part were from outside Libya.
US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other US consulate staff were killed in the attack.
However, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told ABC America’s “current best assessment” was that “this began as a spontaneous, not a pre-meditated, response” to earlier protests over the film in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
The violence in Benghazi was followed by a string of attacks on US consulates, embassies and business interests across the Middle East and north Africa. British, Swiss, German and Dutch properties have also been targeted.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has called for fresh attacks against Western embassies, describing the recent unrest as “a great event”, and urging protesters to unite to “expel the embassies of America from the lands of the Muslims”.
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