Pope Francis Calls Drone Attack on Iraqi Leader ‘Vile Act of Terrorism’

Pope Francis arrives for a visit to the United Nations World Food Program headquarters in Rome, Monday, June 13, 2016. (Credit: Tony Gentile/ Pool Photo vi AP.)
Tony Gentile/ Pool Photo via AP

ROME — Pope Francis sent a telegram to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi Tuesday to assure him of his prayers after Sunday’s assassination attempt.

“Following the attack on your residence in Baghdad, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to convey his prayerful closeness to you and your family, and to those injured,” reads the telegram, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“In condemning this vile act of terrorism, His Holiness once more expresses his confidence that with the blessing of the most high God the people of Iraq will be confirmed in wisdom and strength in pursuing the path of peace through dialogue and fraternal solidarity,” the message concludes.

According to a statement from al-Kadhimi’s office, “armed criminal groups” launched three armed drones at the prime minister’s home in the heavily fortified Green Zone of Baghdad, two of which were shot down, the third of which managed to strike the residence, injuring at least six of the premier’s bodyguards while al-Kadhimi escaped unharmed.

The pope’s condemnation of the attack joins that of numerous other world leaders as well as that of Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako.

Cardinal Sako said Monday that it is not clear who orchestrated the assault but their motive is clear, namely “to destabilize, create confusion, and interrupt the work started by the prime minister,” who has sought institutional reform and greater engagement on the international level.

The attack sought to impede the project of a strong Iraq, a state “based on law, citizenship, order and justice,” Sako said.

The Chaldean primate expressed his own appreciation for the Prime Minister’s efforts, noting that he has “never wanted to use weapons to solve problems; he requests and relaunches the principles of dialogue and encounter, even with his enemies or political opponents.”

The attack on the Prime Minister appears motivated by the refusal of Iran-backed Shiite militias to accept October 10’s parliamentary election results.

The militias have instigated massive street demonstrations, while raising accusations of voter fraud and contesting the election results.

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