Explosion rocks Baghdad, heightens security fears

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Iraq’s parliament voted to reinstate Halbousi for his second term as speaker.
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  • The blast caused damage to the building’s doors and windows, police said
  • No group claimed responsibility and there was no comment from Halbousi or the Iraqi government immediately for the incident

An explosion from a hand grenade hit the headquarters of Iraqi parliament speaker Mohammed Halbousi’s Taqaddum party in Baghdad early on Friday wounding two guards, police sources said.

The blast caused damage to the building’s doors and windows, police said. No group claimed responsibility and there was no comment from Halbousi or the Iraqi government immediately for the incident.

A similar incident hours later targeted the Baghdad headquarters of the Azm party of another Sunni politician, Khamis Al-Khanjar, police said, but caused only light damage.

There was no claim of responsibility for the second incident.

Iraq’s parliament, newly elected after an Oct. 10 general election in which the populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr was the biggest winner, voted to reinstate Halbousi for his second term as speaker on Sunday.

Shiite parties aligned with Iran and which rival Al-Sadr, opposed the selection of Halbousi.

On Thursday, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court, the country’s highest tribunal, provisionally suspended Halbousi, after two fellow deputies lodged a complaint claiming his re-election was unconstitutional.

This will affect the work of parliament whose first task is to elect the country’s president, who then must name a prime minister tasked with forming a new government following October elections.

But the court said suspending the speaker should not affect a 30- day deadline to elect Iraq’s new president.

HIGHLIGHT

Iraq’s post-election period has been marred by high tensions, violence and allegations of vote fraud.

Separately, three people including two children were wounded in rocket attacks on Thursday in Baghdad’s Green Zone, with one hitting a school and two smashing into the US Embassy grounds, Iraqi security sources said.

“Three rockets were fired toward the Green Zone,” a high-ranking Iraqi official said, preferring anonymity. “Two of those fell on the grounds of the American Embassy, and the other on a school nearby, injuring a woman, a girl and a young boy.”

In recent months, dozens of rocket assaults or drone bomb attacks have targeted American troops and interests in Iraq.

The attacks are rarely claimed, but are routinely pinned on pro-Iran factions.

These factions in Iraq are calling for the departure of all US forces stationed in the country.

Another security source who did not wish to be identified said on Thursday there were no injuries or damage inside the US Embassy compound.

The embassy is located in the ultra-secure Green Zone of Baghdad, which also houses parliament and other government offices.

The US Embassy condemned the attack in a statement on Facebook, attributing it to “terrorist groups attempting to undermine Iraq’s security, sovereignty, and international relations.”

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