Attack on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi Occurs Amid Iraqi Election Protests

Attack on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi Occurs Amid Iraqi Election Protests

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi escaped an attempted assassination of an armed drone in Baghdad, officials said on Sunday.

Ummatimes - Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived unharmed in an incident that has raised tensions in Iraq, weeks after a disputed general election by Iran-backed militia groups.

Kadhimi appeared in video footage released by his office on Sunday, chairing a meeting with top security commanders to discuss the drone strike.

"The cowardly terrorist attack that targeted the prime minister's house last night with the aim of killing him, is the serious targeting of the Iraqi state by criminal armed groups," his office said in a statement after the meeting.

Six Kadhimi guards outside his residence in the fortified Green Zone were injured, a security source told Reuters.

Three drones were used in the attack, including two that were shot down by security forces, while a third drone hit the residence, state news agency INA quoted an Iraqi interior ministry spokesman as saying.

A spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces said after the attack the security situation was stable in the Green Zone, which houses residences, government buildings and foreign embassies.

No group immediately claimed responsibility.

The attack came two days after clashes in Baghdad between government forces and supporters of an Iran-backed political party, which lost dozens of parliamentary seats after the October 10 general election. Most parties have armed wings.

Kadhimi ordered an investigation into the deaths and injuries of demonstrators and security forces in the clashes.

President Barham Salih condemned the attack as a heinous crime against Iraq. "We cannot accept that Iraq will be dragged into chaos and a coup against its constitutional system," he said on Twitter.

Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose party was the biggest winner in last month's Iraqi election, called the attack a terrorist act against Iraq's stability.

The United States, United Nations, Saudi Arabia and Iran condemned the attack.

Video released by the prime minister's office showed damage to parts of the residence, unexploded ordnance on the roof, and a damaged SUV parked in a garage.

Security forces retrieved the remains of a small, explosive-laden drone, a security official familiar with the attack told Reuters.

"It is too early to say who carried out the attack," the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on security details.

The Iraqi military said the attack targeted Kadhimi's residence. The military said the prime minister was doing well, but gave no further details.

Two government officials said Kadhimi's residence was hit by at least one explosion.

Western diplomats based near the Green Zone said they heard explosions and gunfire.

The United States offered to help with the investigation.

"The perpetrators of terrorist attacks in this country of Iraq must be held accountable. I strongly condemn those who use violence to undermine Iraq's democratic process," said US President Joe Biden, praising Kadhimi's call for "calm, restraint and dialogue," following the attack.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, through his spokesman, called on Iraqis to exercise complete restraint and reject all violence and any attempt to destabilize Iraq. Gutteres urged all parties to resolve disputes through dialogue.

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said the attack was a "cowardly terrorist act", state-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported. Iran's top security official, Ali Shamkhani, condemned the attack, calling it "new incitement" in a tweet.

The groups leading the protests about the October 10 vote are Iran-backed armed militias, which lost much of their parliamentary power in the elections. They have accused polling and vote counting irregularities, allegations Iraqi election officials deny.

Demonstrations by their supporters were violent on Friday when protesters pelted police with stones near the Green Zone, injuring several officers.

Police retaliated with tear gas and live fire, killing at least one demonstrator, according to security sources and a hospital in Baghdad.

Analysts said the election results reflected anger against the Iran-backed armed group, which is widely accused of involvement in the killing of nearly 600 protesters who took to the streets in separate anti-government demonstrations in 2019.

Leaders of various political parties, most of which have armed wings and are allied with Iran, condemned the drone strike and called on the government to investigate and hold the perpetrators accountable.

A security official from the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group in Iraq rejected accusations on Sunday that Iraqi groups were behind the attack on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.