Jan 22, 2021 17:49 UTC
  • Iraq PM orders major security changes in capital after terrorist attacks

A day after deadly bombings that rocked the heart of Baghdad, Iraq’s prime minister has expelled four senior security officials as part of a set of structural changes to the capital’s security apparatus, pledging the nation that his government will not allow a repeat of such attacks.

According to reports, Mustafa al-Kadhimi chaired an emergency meeting of the Iraqi National Security Council on Friday, with senior military commanders in attendance, to discuss the security loopholes that paved the ground for the biggest bomb attack in Baghdad since 2018.

At least 32 people lost their lives and as many as 110 others were injured when two terrorist bombers blew themselves up among shoppers at a second-hand clothes market in Baghdad’s Tayaran Square. Several hours later, the Takfiri Daesh terror group claimed responsibility for the bloodshed.

During the session, Kadhimi — who also serves as Iraq’s commander-in-chief — admitted that there were faults in the capital’s security apparatus, “which should immediately be dealt with.”

“We have made a series of changes to [Baghdad]’s security and military foundations and are working to draw up a comprehensive and effective security plan to tackle future challenges,” the Iraqi PM added.

Kadhimi further defended the performance of Iraq’s security institutions over the past months and said, “Daesh has been making daily attempts to reach Baghdad, but [those attempts] have all been foiled in preemptive operations. Unfortunately, [the terror group] managed to infiltrate Baghdad and shed innocent blood yesterday, but we will not allow such security loopholes to emerge again.”

Later in the day, Yehia Rasool, a spokesperson for Kadhimi, said in a tweet that the premier had issued “orders on major changes in the security services.”

He said the deputy interior minister for intelligence affairs, Lt. Gen. Amer Saddam, the director-general of the ministry’s intelligence and counter-terrorism department, Abdul Karim Abd Fadel, the federal police commander, Lt. Gen. Jaafar al-Battat, and the chief of the intelligence and security department of the Baghdad operational headquarters, Bassem Majeed, were fired against the backdrop of the twin blasts.

Bombings have become rare in Baghdad since Daesh lost the territories it had captured in Iraq and Syria in late 2017.

Despite the terror group’s defeat on the battlefield, Daesh sleeper cells have remained active in both countries, carrying out sporadic attacks against security forces and civilians, mainly in rural areas.

The last such attack in Baghdad hit the same location in January 2018, claiming the lives of 35 people.

Commenting on the terror attack, Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, a spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said Friday that security has been sharply tightened in the capital, with security forces adopting new tactics to protect the city.

He said Iraqi forces have brought terrorists under immense pressure over the months, and that many of them have been killed or arrested during security operations.

Reports of Saudi footprints

Citing preliminary intelligence, Baha-uddin Nouri, a spokesman for Iraq’s State of Law Coalition, said Friday that the perpetrators were both Saudi nationals.

If it is proven, he added, Baghdad will admonish the Saudi authorities.

Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah resistance group has hold Saudi Arabia, the US, and the illegal Zionist entity responsible for the bombings, warning Saudi regime’s heir apparent Mohamed bin Salman that he will pay the price for backing such plots.

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