Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt with an armed drone that targeted his residence early Sunday, and officials said he was unharmed. The attack in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone marks a major escalation of tensions sparked by the refusal of Iran-backed militias to accept last month's parliamentary election results, per the AP. "I am fine and among my people. Thank God," the prime minister tweeted shortly after the attack. He called for calm and restraint, “for the sake of Iraq.” He later appeared on Iraqi television, declaring that "cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future."
The government said an explosives-laden drone tried to hit al-Kadhimi’s home. Several of al-Kadhimi's security guards suffered minor injuries, reports the Washington Post. 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. 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 lost around two-thirds of their seats.
Al-Kadhimi, 54, was Iraq's former intelligence chief before becoming prime minister in May last year. He is considered by the militias to be close to the US, and has tried to balance between Iraq's alliances with both the US and Iran. Prior to the elections, he hosted several rounds of talks between regional foes Iran and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad in a bid to ease regional tensions. The US strongly denounced the attack. “This apparent act of terrorism, which we strongly condemn, was directed at the heart of the Iraqi state,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
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