Attempted assassination of president raises tension in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) – The Iraqi government deployed troops to Baghdad on Sunday following a failed assassination attempt with armed drones on the prime minister’s residence. The attack considerably increased tensions triggered by the rejection of the Iranian-backed militias to the result of last month’s parliamentary elections.

Seven of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s security guards were injured in the attack with at least two armed drones in the fortified Baghdad Green Zone, according to two Iraqi officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make official statements.

Al-Kadhimi was unharmed. He later appeared on Iraqi television, sitting behind a desk in a white shirt, calm and focused. His left hand looked bandaged. An advisor confirmed that he had suffered a minor cut.

“Cowardly drone and rocket attacks don’t build homelands and they don’t build a future.” Later on Sunday he hosted Iraqi President Barham Salih and led a government security meeting.

Baghdad residents heard an explosion and intense gunfire from the Green Zone, where there are government offices and foreign embassies. Images released by authorities showed damage to Al-Kadhimi’s residence, including shattered windows and doors ripped off their hinges.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, although suspicions immediately fell on Iranian-supported militias, who have publicly attacked the president and made threats. The security forces are fighting with pro-Iran Shiite militias, whose followers have been camped outside the Green Zone for almost a month in rejection of the results of the parliamentary elections, in which they lost about two-thirds of their seats.

“The assassination attempt is a drastic escalation, it crosses an unprecedented line that could have violent consequences,” Ranj Alaaldin, a non-resident analyst at the Brookings Institution, wrote on Twitter.

The protests took a deadly turn on Friday when protesters marched into the Green Zone. There was an exchange of fire in which a protester lost his life.

Dozens of elements of the security forces were injured. Al-Khadimi ordered an investigation to determine what caused the clashes and who violated the order not to open fire. Al-Khadimi ordered an investigation to determine what triggered the clashes and who breached the orders not to open fire.


Associated Press journalists Zeina Karam in Vienna, Sarah El Deeb in Beirut, Jon Gambrell and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

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