Hundreds of protesters have stormed the Swedish embassy in central Baghdad, scaling its walls and setting it on fire in protest against the expected desecration of Muslim holy book Quran in Sweden.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency on Thursday that no embassy staff had been harmed and declined to elaborate further.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry condemned the incident and said in a statement the Iraqi government had instructed security forces to carry out a swift investigation, identify perpetrators and hold them to account.
Swedish embassy staff in Baghdad are “safe” following the torching of the building by protesters, the Swedish Foreign Ministry told the AFP news agency.
“We are aware of the situation. Our embassy staff [in Iraq] are safe and the ministry is in regular contact with them,” the ministry said in an email.
The Swedish ministry’s press office told the Reuters news agency that Iraqi authorities have the responsibility to protect diplomatic missions and staff.
Thursday’s demonstration was called by supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr to protest the second planned Quran burning in Sweden in weeks, according to posts in a popular Telegram group linked the influential cleric and other pro-Sadr media.
New application for Quran desecration
Swedish news agency TT reported on Wednesday that Swedish police granted an application for a public meeting outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday.
The application says the applicant seeks to burn the Qoran and the Iraqi flag, TT reported.
Two people were set to participate in the demonstration, according to TT, adding one of the people was the same person who set a Quran on fire outside a Stockholm mosque in June.
A series of videos posted to the Telegram group, One Baghdad, showed people gathering around the embassy around 1 am on Thursday chanting pro-Sadr slogans and storming the embassy complex around an hour later.
“Yes, yes to the Quran,” protesters chanted.
Videos later showed smoke rising from a building in the embassy complex.
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos.
It was not immediately clear if anyone was inside the embassy at the time of the storming.
Late last month, Sadr called for protests against Sweden and the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador after the Quran burning in Stockholm by an extremist.
Swedish police charged the man with agitation against an ethnic or national group.
Two major protests took place outside of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in the aftermath of that incident, with protesters breaching the embassy grounds on one occasion.
The governments of several Muslim countries, including Iraq, Pakistan, Türkiye, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco issued protests about the incident.