Haider al-Abadi recovering from assassination attempt

Image copyright EPA Image caption Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Friday a day of mourning in response to the attack

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says he is in a stable condition following an assassination attempt in Baghdad.

A car bomb exploded in a popular tourist area on Friday and gunmen then opened fire on Abadi’s convoy, which was on its way to a funeral, says his office.

A missile detonated in front of his convoy as he left his home.

There have been no further details of the assassination attempt in the capital.

Although the target of the attack was not confirmed, reports suggested that it was the funeral of a former Iraqi police commander, Colonel Hazem Bashir al-Zaidi.

Mr Abadi had just attended the funeral of Colonel Bashir, as well as giving an address at the event, when the explosion took place, his office said.

Mr Abadi was among scores of people killed and wounded in the explosion, which came on the 10th anniversary of a car bombing in Sadr City – the Shiite district of the Iraqi capital that is one of the most dangerous in the country.

“Prime Minister Abadi is safe and sound. We are thankful to God, and the people who shielded him,” Baghdad Governor Babaker Zebari told the Reuters news agency.

Mr Abadi was hospitalised overnight but was able to return to work on Saturday, according to a senior member of his political bloc, who spoke to AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

He is at his official headquarters in Baghdad’s Karrada neighbourhood, members of his National Alliance faction told AFP.

Image copyright AFP Image caption A senior member of Mr Abadi’s political bloc said he had returned to work on Saturday

Violence has risen sharply in Iraq since the start of 2017 as the security forces battle the Islamic State (IS) group in the north of the country.

The prime minister has launched a series of operations since 2015 to recapture territory and militias have attacked government officials – raising concerns that the country could disintegrate.

On Thursday night, two bodies were found with gunshot wounds outside the Shiite shrine city of Najaf.

Seven gunmen had also been killed in separate raids in the Baghdad district of Karrada, which lies at the centre of the Iraqi capital, police sources told AFP.

It was not clear if any of the security forces had been killed in the raid.

Prime Minister Abadi has previously dismissed threats of rebel violence.

“We know that these people will say things to incite sectarian conflicts,” he said last year after militants attacked an army camp in what they called retaliation for a raid on a Sunni mosque.

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