Gunmen attack Baghdad offices of leading Sunni political groups

Tension rising over formation of the next government after disputed election in October

The Baghdad office of the Taqadum party headed by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi, above, was attacked by gunmen on Friday. AFP

Gunmen attacked the Baghdad offices of two main Sunni parties shortly before dawn on Friday amid rising political tension over forming Iraq's next government.

No one was injured in the attacks against Taqadum party, led by Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi, and the Azim coalition headed by tycoon Khamis Al Khanjar, a security official said, and the buildings suffered only minor damage.

The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear.

The attacks came hours after rockets were fired at the US Embassy inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone where government offices and embassies are located.

Two rockets were intercepted while the third landed on a school near the embassy, a security official said.

No deaths were reported in the attack on Thursday evening, but a woman and a child were injured, the official said.

No group has claimed responsibility.

US assets in Iraq have faced frequent attacks from Iran-backed Shiite militias since the January 2020 killing of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis in a US drone strike.

The attacks on the US Embassy and on party offices came as tension rises among Iraq's political rivals over the formation of a new government after a disputed general election in October.

The Sadrist bloc, a political group sponsored by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, emerged as the biggest group with 73 seats, prompting an unsuccessful challenge of the election result by his Shiite rivals.

They include former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, whose State of Law bloc won 33 seats, and the Iran-backed Fatah Alliance, which won 17 seats in the 329-member Iraqi Parliament.

Mr Al Sadr and the Co-ordination Framework, formed by the State of Law, Fatah and other Shiite groups, have failed to reach consensus on the next government.

Sunni and Kurdish groups in Parliament are siding with Mr Al Sadr, prompting his Shiite rivals to issue threats against them.

Updated: January 14th 2022, 10:02 AM