Iraqi PM safe after drone attack on residence, military says

File – Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt after his residency in Baghdad was attacked by a drone laden with explosives, the Iraqi military said on Sunday.

The Iraqi military said Kadhimi escaped unhurt but several members of his personnel protection were injured in the attack.

Kadhimi’s official Twitter account said the prime minister was safe and called for calm.

“I’m doing fine, praise be to God, and I call for calm and restraint on the part of everyone for the good of Iraq,” Kadhimi wrote on Twitter.

Two government officials told Reuters that Kadhimi’s residence had been hit by at least one explosion and confirmed to Reuters that the prime minister was safe.

Security sources told Reuters that six members of Kadhimi’s personal protection force stationed outside his residence had been injured.

Head of the Security Media Cell General Saan Maan said the security forces shot down two drones, while the third hit the prime minister’s house.

Following the failed assassination attempt, the security services declared a state of emergency in Baghdad.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on Kadhimi’s residence in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies.

It was the fourth attempted assassination against the premier. In July, Kadhimi said in an interview with al-Hadath channel that he had survived three assassination attempts since he took office last year.

Sunday’s attack came after protests in the Iraqi capital over the result of a general election last month turned violent.

The groups leading protests and complaints about the result of the Oct. 10 vote are heavily-armed Iran-backed militias which lost much of their parliamentary power in the election. They have alleged voting and vote-counting irregularities.

Supporters of Iran-aligned militia groups which have grown their power in parliament and government in recent years have protested the results of the October election.

Protests turned deadly on Friday when the demonstrators tried to enter the Green Zone. Security forces used tear gas and live ammunition. There was an exchange of fire in which one protester affiliated with the militias was killed. Dozens of security forces were injured. Khadimi ordered an investigation to determine what sparked the clashes and who violated orders not to open fire.

Some of the leaders of the most powerful militia factions loyal to Iran openly blamed Kadhimi for Friday’s clashes and the protester’s death.

“The blood of martyrs is to hold you accountable,” said Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, addressing Kadhimi at a funeral held for the protester on Saturday, according to AP.

“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.”

Kadhimi, 54, was Iraq’s former intelligence chief before becoming prime minister in May last year. He is considered by the militias to be close to the U.S., and has tried to balance between Iraq’s alliances with both the U.S. and Iran.

*This story was updated at 10:03 a.m. EBL time 

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