Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt that saw armed drones descend on his Baghdad home on Sunday morning, according to Iraqi officials.
The attack drastically escalates tensions between al-Kadhimi’s government and Iran-backed Shiite militias, who have refused to accept last month’s parliamentary election results.
Seven of al-Kadhimi’s security guards were injured when two armed drones attacked in the capital’s heavily defended Green Zone, two Iraqi officials told The Associated Press.
“I am fine and among my people. Thank God,” the prime minister tweeted shortly after the attack, calling for national restraint “for the sake of Iraq.”
He later appeared on Iraqi television, seated behind a desk in a white shirt, urging Iraqis to remain calm.
“Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future,” he said.
Seven of al-Kadhimi’s security guards were injured during the assassination attempt, as two armed drones attacked in the Green Zone.EPA
The Iraqi government said that a drone loaded with explosives tried to hit the PM’s home. Baghdad residents heard the sound of an explosion followed by heavy gunfire from the Green Zone, where foreign embassies and government offices are located.
U.S. officials have condemned the attack.
“This apparent act of terrorism, which we strongly condemn, was directed at the heart of the Iraqi state,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
“We are in close touch with the Iraqi security forces charged with upholding Iraq’s sovereignty and independence and have offered our assistance as they investigate this attack,” he added.
The attacks on Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s home escalates tensions between his government and Iran-backed Shiite militias, who refuse to accept the parliamentary election results.REUTERS
Al-Kadhimi, 54, had previously held the position of Iraq’s intelligence chief before he ascended to prime minister last May. Militias consider him to be close to the United States as he tries to maintain alliances with both the US and Iran.
No organization immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Supporters of pro-Iran and Shiite militias have been dug in outside of the capital’s Green Zone for nearly a month following the Oct. 10 elections in which they lost two-thirds of their seats. They’ve threatened violence if their demand for a recount is denied.
The elections were praised as fair by the US and the UN Security Council, and claims of voter fraud have been unsubstantiated.
Damage is captured inside the home of Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi after a drone attack at the Green Zone in Baghdad.EPA
On Friday, demonstrators tried to enter the Green Zone, leading to an exchange of gunfire in which one protester sided with the militias was killed. Dozens of security forces were also injured.
Powerful militia leaders blamed al-Kadhimi for the violence.
“The blood of martyrs is to hold you accountable,” said Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, at a funeral held for the protester Saturday. “The protesters only had one demand against fraud in elections. Responding like this (with live fire) means you are the first responsible for this fraud.”
Damaged property outside the Prime Minister’s home is seen, as Baghdad residents heard the sound of the explosion from the Green Zone.AP
With Post wires