BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi government says Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt with an armed drone and he is unharmed.
In a statement released Sunday, the government said an explosives-laden drone tried to hit al-Kadhimi’s home in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone area.
Residents of Baghdad heard the sound of an explosion followed by gunfire from the direction of the Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and government offices.
Seven of al-Kadhimi’s security guards were injured in the attack, Iraqi officials say.
The prime minister later appeared on Iraqi television seated behind a desk, looking calm and composed. His left hand appeared to be wrapped in a bandage.
Troops and patrols have now been deployed around Baghdad.
There was no claim for the attack Sunday, but suspicion immediately fell on Iran-backed militias who had publicly issued threats against al-Kadhimi. They denied involvement.
The attack marks a major escalation amid tensions sparked by the refusal of Iran-backed militias to accept last month’s parliamentary election results.
Two Iraqi politicians tell The Associated Press that a top Iranian general visited Baghdad after the drone attack. He said Tehran and its allies had nothing to do with it.
The politicians quoted the general as saying Tehran is not opposed to any politician named by the Shiite blocs in the newly elected parliament to become the next prime minister.
Iran enjoys wide influence in Iraq through powerful militias it has been backing for years. Iran and Iraq both have majority Shiite populations
President Joe Biden released this statement on the attack:
“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack targeting the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kadhimi. I am relieved the Prime Minister was not injured and commend the leadership he has shown in calling for calm, restraint, and dialogue to protect the institutions of the state and strengthen the democracy Iraqis so richly deserve.
The perpetrators of this terrorist attack on the Iraqi state must be held accountable. I condemn in the strongest terms those using violence to undermine Iraq’s democratic process.
I have instructed my national security team to offer all appropriate assistance to Iraq’s security forces as they investigate this attack and identify those responsible. The United States stands firmly with the government and people of Iraq as they strive to uphold Iraq’s sovereignty and independence.”