Diplomats: Roadside bombing targets British convoy in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — A roadside bombing targeted British diplomatic vehicles in Baghdad on Tuesday, the British Embassy and Iraqi officials said. There were no injuries but the attack is fueling concerns of armed groups outside of the state’s control.

The attack targeted an embassy convoy on a Baghdad highway close to the Umm al-Tabool Mosque, the British Embassy and Iraqi security officials said. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The roads and the area of the attack, between the airport and the heavily fortified Green Zone, are often used by diplomatic missions, the Iraqi official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The Green Zone is home to the seat of Iraq’s government and also many foreign embassies, including the British and the U.S.

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“The safety and security of our staff is of paramount importance and we are in close touch with the Iraqi authorities,” said a statement from teh British Embassy.

The attack is the first in months to target a diplomatic convoy and comes amid near daily rocket attacks aimed at the Green Zone and Iraqi army bases hosting U.S. troops. Rocket attacks have rarely lead to significant losses.

Tuesday’s bombing is the third attack in the last 24 hours against foreign missions.

Two rockets were fired at the Green Zone late on Monday but caused to casualties; one was intercepted by the U.S. embassy’s C-RAM defense system, two Iraqi security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity under regulations.

Earlier on Monday, a roadside bomb targeted an convoy of vehicles carrying equipment for Americans on the main highway in Babylon province, south of Baghdad.

The rocket attacks surged at an alarming pace when Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi traveled to the U.S. last month to conclude strategic talks. They have put pressure on his administration, which has promised to reign in armed groups acting outside of state authority.

The recent attacks come as al-Kadhimi introduced sweeping administrative changes, including naming a new governor of Iraq’s Central Bank, which provoked criticism from some political blocs.

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Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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