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Iraqi prime minister survives assassination attempt

November 7, 2021

The residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was hit in a drone attack. The military has described the strike as an assassination attempt.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi speaks during a joint news conference next to the Iraqi flag
The military has described the rocket attack as a 'failed assassination attempt'Image: Stefanie Loos/REUTERS

Explosions have hit the home of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraqi officials said Sunday.

The prime minister is "in good health" and was unharmed in the strike, the military and government said, describing the drone attack as an assassination attempt.

"The security forces are taking the necessary measures in connection with this failed attempt," a statement released by state-run media said.

Al-Kadhimi himself later appeared on state television to say he was unhurt and to condemn the attack.

After chairing a security meeting, Al-Kadhimi said Sunday evening that those behind the attack were well known and would be exposed.

"We will pursue those who committed yesterday's crime, we know them well and we will expose them," he said, according to a statement from his office. 

What we know about the attack

According to a statement from the Iraqi military, the attack was carried out early on Sunday by an armed drone that was carrying explosives.

The drone targeted the prime minister's residence, which is located in the heavily-fortified Green Zone in the capital, Baghdad. At least seven security guards were injured in the attack, two Iraqi officials said.

Two other drones were shot down before they could reach their target, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

Attack draws chorus of international condemnation

Germany and the United States condemned Sunday's drone attack, with Washington referring to it as an "apparent act of terrorism."

US President Joe Biden condemned the attack on al-Kadhimi"s residence in a written statement and praised al-Khadimi's call for "calm, restraint, and dialogue."

A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said: "Iraq's democratization process must not be undermined by political violence." 

The spokesperson called for calm and said that work toward de-escalation and dialogue should take place between all sides.

Iran's top security official, Ali Shamkhani, also condemned the assassination attempt, and blamed unspecified "foreign"  interference in Iraqi affairs for "insecurity, conflict and instability."

Iraq's southern neighbor Saudi Arabia called the attack "cowardly," with the UK and Egypt also issuing similar statements.

What is the situation in Iraq?

The attack comes as supporters of several heavily armed pro-Iranian groups protested the result of Iraq's general election held last month. The demonstrations were staged near the entrance of the Green Zone.

Tensions escalated on Friday when a protester was killed after the demonstrators marched toward the Green Zone. Several members of the security forces were injured in an exchange of fire. 

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite armed groups burn portraits of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi and Iraq security officials
Militia supporters burned portraits of Prime Minister al-Khadimi near the Green ZoneImage: Thaier Al-Sudani/REUTERS

Al-Kadhimi has ordered an investigation into the cause of unrest. Authorities will also determine who violated orders not to open fire.

While international powers have praised the October 10 election, pro-Iranian groups faced a severe blow as the biggest losers. Supporters of the militias have since pitched tents near the Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and government offices, and have demanded a recount.

Shiite cleric and Iran critic Moqtada al-Sadr, whose faction was seen as the major winner of the vote, condemned Sunday's "terrorist act."

Al-Kadhimi, who has been in power since May 2020, called last month's election following widespread and deadly anti-corruption protests that toppled his predecessor, Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

mm, ab,see/fb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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