Baghdad: rocket attack on American embassy, one dead in protests
Five rockets launched against diplomatic representation in the Green Zone. One hit the canteen, injuring at least one person. At the moment the attack has not been claimed. Security forces intervene to quell street demonstrations, resulting in one victim and over one hundred injured across the country.
Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Five rockets have been launched against the US embassy in Iraq, inside the maximum security Green Zone in Baghdad, causing the injury of at least three people. The attack took place yesterday, in a context of growing tensions and violence in the country: yesterday, in fact, security forces intervened to forcefully quash anti-government protests, causing the death of a protester.
Local sources report that at least one of the five Katyusha missiles hit the canteen of the US diplomatic mission in Iraq, while the other four fell short without hitting the building. Analysts and experts point out that this would be the first time in several years that US personnel have been injured in an attack.
At the moment no group or movement has claimed responsibility for the operation. In the past, Washington had accused local Shiite militias supported and financed by Iran for similar operations.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned the attack, adding that perpetrating such actions could "drag Iraq into a battlefield." The US Department of State addressed the Iraqi authorities, inviting them to "fulfill their obligations regarding the defense of our diplomatic structures".
The new violence is part of a turbulent context in the country's political and institutional life. On January 24, tens of thousands of people, according to some over a million, took to the streets in response to the appeal of the radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, asking for the expulsion of US troops. A demonstration separate from the anti-government protests that have been going on for months against corruption and bad business. The internal tensions come amid international tensions, in particular the head-on collision between the United States and Iran which is taking place (also) on Iraqi territory.
Also yesterday, Iraqi security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in Baghdad, killing at least one person. In the southern city of Nassyria, some unidentified men allegedly set fire to the tents of the protesters, who responded by setting two police vehicles on fire. At least 75 people were injured in the clashes, out of a total of over a hundred registered across the country.
Since the early morning yesterday, hundreds of university students gathered in Tahrir square, the epicenter of anti-government protests, chanting slogans and songs against the United States and Iran. The demonstrations spread to the cities of Kerbala, Najaf and Diwaniya, in spite of threats from local and central authorities who had threatened to crack down on dissent.