Written by Staff Writer by, Zakary Varla, CNN
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has survived an assassination attempt Saturday.
Iraq’s Communications Minister, Zuhair Murad, confirmed the attack, describing the bomber as a Daesh (the so-called IS group) supporter who fled the scene after detonating his explosives. The minister said the bomb had been found by an Iraqi security employee and in the chaos caused by the blast, had been taken into the Prime Minister’s media center.
Correspondents have seen his car as it passed them moments later: turned sideways, dented, the hatch collapsed.
Footage posted on social media show smoke billowing from a truck being approached by a convoy of security vehicles. Moments later, the truck explodes, and the entire facade of the media building and surrounding streets is in flames.
CNN has learned that a suicide bomber was in the truck. While the alleged target of the attack was Abadi, all those injured are believed to be civilian bystanders.
The Prime Minister, who was in a nearby hotel, escaped unharmed, but two senior ministers — Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Lukhim and Local Government Minister Sulaiman Al Dulaimi — were among those wounded.
A US drone reportedly dropped a large amount of material on the truck to try and stop it.
According to witnesses, Abadi was speaking to guests at the press conference shortly before the explosion, and quickly shifted to go into the building. He issued a statement confirming his presence in the press center at the time of the attack.
“Every road to power and power is difficult, and we have passed through many more tests than the one that is happening right now,” the PM said later, in remarks broadcast on al-Arabiya, speaking in front of the bombed media center.
While Iraq now boasts a renewed reputation for stability in the aftermath of the Daesh-led violence, the country still has a complex security environment. Three suicide attacks killed more than 70 people in Baghdad on December 10, taking the number of attacks in the Iraqi capital to more than 200 in the past two months alone.
An explosion close to the prime minister’s palace killed 43 people earlier this month and this week, militants attacked Iraq’s premier’s office in the capital in a gun battle that lasted more than three hours.