Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt with armed drones that targeted his residence early Sunday, November 7.
The officials said he was unharmed. The attack was a major escalation amid tensions sparked by the refusal of Iran-backed militias to accept last month’s parliamentary election results.
Two Iraqi said seven of al-Kadhimi’s security guards were injured in the attack with two armed drones which occurred in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone area.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give official statements.
The prime minister tweeted shortly after the attack:
“I am fine and among my people. Thank God”
He later appeared on Iraqi television, seated behind a desk in a white shirt, looking calm and composed. “Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future,” he said.
In a statement, the government said an explosives-laden drone tried to hit al-Kadhimi’s home. Residents of Baghdad heard the sound of an explosion followed by heavy gunfire from the direction of the Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and government offices.
The statement released by state-run media said security forces were “taking the necessary measures in connection with this failed attempt.”
There was no immediate claim for the attack. It comes amid a stand-off between security forces and pro-Iran Shiite militias whose supporters have been camped outside the Green Zone for nearly a month after they rejected the results of Iraq’s parliamentary elections in which they were they lost around two-thirds of their seats.
“The assassination attempt is a dramatic escalation, crossing a line in unprecedented fashion that may have violent reverberations,” wrote Ranj Alaaldin, a nonresident fellow at Brookings Institution, in a post on Twitter.
The U.S. State Department called the drone attack “an apparent act of terrorism” and said U.S. officials were relieved to learn that al-Kadhimi was unharmed.
“We are in close touch with the Iraqi security forces charged with upholding Iraq’s sovereignty and independence and have offered our assistance as they investigate this attack,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement. “Our commitment to our Iraqi partners is unshakeable.”