Iraq’s prime minister escapes assassination attempt

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Bayan Jabr leaves the National Palace unhurt after dozens of armed men are caught in a car bomb and shooting at the ceremony

Iraqi Prime Minister Bayan Jabr has survived an assassination attempt by dozens of armed men who stormed into a ceremony outside the National Palace in Baghdad, according to a security source.

Jabr fled the attack unharmed after an explosion at the ceremony, then two men in a car burst into the area and opened fire, he told state TV.

The attack comes just five days after one of the worst attacks in Iraq in years when a suicide bomber targeted a marketplace in the northern city of Kirkuk killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 100.

Jabr first escaped an assassination attempt in February when two bombers tried to ram a truck bomb into a military command centre in Baghdad. Jabr escaped uninjured.

As prime minister, Jabr is the country’s most powerful politician, seen as managing Iraq’s often fragile political consensus as it prepares to hold a general election later this year.

The government has been under attack from the Islamic State group since its militants swept across northern and western Iraq in 2014, taking large swaths of territory and declaring a caliphate.

Since then the group has been pushed back, leading it to change tactics.

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It has increasingly reverted to bomb attacks rather than guerilla warfare and launched a concerted campaign in Baghdad in April.

The government has largely defeated Islamic State in a series of battles across Iraq and the northern town of Hawija, it is now planning an offensive to retake its final city stronghold, Mosul.

But IS militants continue to attack Iraqi forces, with an officer in the army’s elite counter-terrorism service killed on Sunday in the western city of Ramadi when his car blew up.

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