British embassy convoy in Iraq targeted by roadside bomb

Attack raises concerns about the government's inability to rein in armed groups

A picture taken on November 24, 2018, shows one of the entrances to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. The partial reopening of Baghdad's high-security Green Zone to through traffic that was planned for Sunday has been postponed for several days, a government official told AFP. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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A British diplomatic vehicle was targeted by a roadside bombing on Tuesday in Baghdad but caused no injuries, an embassy official told The National.

The attack, the first of its kind in months, raised concerns about outlaw groups conducting armed operations targeting foreign diplomatic missions and troops stationed in Iraq.

“The diplomatic vehicle was returning to the embassy from the airport when attacked by an IED. No one was physically injured in the attack,” said the official

Ambassador Stephen Hickey was not in the vehicle when the bombing happened.

The convoy was on a Baghdad motorway close to Umm Al Tabool Mosque at the time of the attack. No group claimed responsibility.

“The safety and security of our staff is of paramount importance, and we are in close touch with the Iraqi authorities,” said an embassy statement.

Attacks on the Green Zone, where Iraq's government is based and also many foreign embassies, including the British and the US, have increased in recent months.

On Tuesday morning, two Katyusha rockets landed inside the Green Zone, but caused no casualties or damage, the military said.

Washington blamed Iranian-backed militia groups for conducting such attacks.

The incident happened as Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi ordered a government shake-up in the security and economic sectors.

He has vowed to tackle armed groups that operate outside the law and to keep weapons under state control.

Last month, Mr Al Kadhimi travelled to the US to conclude talks about the future of relations between Baghdad and Washington.

Violence has put immense pressure on his administration.

The attacks signalled a worrying intent to destabilise the political environment and engulf the country in violent instability, Ranj Aladdin, a fellow at the Brookings Doha Centre, said.

It was “expanding the scope of attacks in response to domestic politics, as opposed to simply the conflict with the US”, Mr Aladdin wrote on Twitter.