Iraq PM calls for 'calm' after drone attack on his residence

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BAGHDAD (AFP, REUTERS, XINHUA) - Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi said he was unhurt and appealed for calm and restraint after a drone attack on his residence on Sunday (Nov 7) as political tensions mounted in the country.

The attack in Baghdad's Green Zone - the first to target the residence of Mr Kadhemi, who has been in power since May last year - came as Iraq's political parties wrangle over who will run the next government after last month's elections.

That vote saw the Conquest (Fatah) Alliance, the political arm of the pro-Iran Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, suffer a substantial drop in its parliamentary seats, leading the group to denounce the outcome as fraud.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, which left six members of Mr Kadhemi's personal protection force wounded, security sources said.

Three drones were used in the attack, including two that were intercepted and downed by security forces while the third drone hit the residence, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted an Interior Ministry spokesman as saying.

Iraqi security forces later found two unexploded projectiles over Mr Kadhemi's residence.

INA posted pictures of two unexploded projectiles on the roof of Mr Kadhemi's house, and said these were part of the "failed assassination attempt".

In a tweet, Mr Kadhemi called "for calm and restraint on the part of everyone for the good of Iraq".

"My residence has been the target of cowardly assault. Praise God, I am fine and so are those who work with me," he said in a short video. "Cowardly missiles and drones don't build nations."

Video footage published by his office showed him chairing a meeting with top security commanders to discuss the attack.

The United States swiftly condemned the attack and said it was "relieved to learn the Prime Minister was unharmed".

"This apparent act of terrorism, which we strongly condemn, was directed at the heart of the Iraqi state," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Damage to the residence of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi following a drone attack in Baghdad on Nov 7, 2021. PHOTOS: AFP

A large number of security forces were deployed in and around the heavily guarded Green Zone, which also hosts the US Embassy and is frequently targeted by rocket attacks.

The drone attack came amid soaring tensions over the results of the Oct 10 elections. Hundreds of Hashed supporters clashed with police last Friday while protesting near the Green Zone.

One protester died of his injuries in hospital, according to a security source, while a Hashed source said two demonstrators were killed. The Health Ministry reported 125 injuries, most of them from the security forces.

According to preliminary tallies, the Conquest won around 15 of the 329 seats in Parliament last month, down from the 48 it held previously. The big winner this time, with more than 70 seats, was the movement of Shi'ite preacher Moqtada Sadr, who campaigned as a nationalist and critic of Iran.

Final election results are expected within weeks.

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