Reports: Four Katyusha rockets target Basra airport amid security crisis

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An Al Arabiya correspondent reported on Saturday that four rockets were launched towards Iraq's Basra airport.

An official at Iraq's Basra airport later told the Associated Press that unknown assailants fired Katyusha rockets at the airport, adding that no casualties were reported.

The official said it was not clear who was behind the Saturday morning attack, which followed a chaotic night that saw hundreds of angry protesters storm and set fire to the Iranian consulate and other Iranian interests in Basra.

The protests in Basra are the most serious to shake Iraq's oil-rich southern Shiite heartland in years. Protesters are calling for an end to endemic corruption, soaring joblessness and poor public services.

The airport official said the Katyusha attack did not disrupt flights in or out of the city. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack at about 8 a.m. local time.

The Al Arabiya correspondent had reported late on Friday that a large special force entered Basra to impose security in the city, after a day of protests and destruction till late evening, as angry demonstrators stormed and burned down the Iranian consulate.

Iraq's main seaport Umm Qasr reopened on Saturday at 3 a.m. (0000 GMT) and all operations have resumed after protesters left the port's entrance, port employees and government sources in the area said.

All operations had been halted since Thursday, after protesters blocked the port's entrance.

Umm Qasr, 60 km (40 miles) south of Basra, receives grain, vegetable oil and sugar shipments that feed a country largely dependent on imported food.

Protesters stormed the Iranian consulate in Iraq’s southern oil hub Basra on Friday, local security sources said.

The consulate is in the upscale neighborhood of al-Barda’iya, southeast of the city center.

Demonstrators have targeted local government buildings and political party offices since protests intensified on Monday.

The Iraqi government has declared a state of maximum emergency in Baghdad and curfew in Basra.

(With Reuters)

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