ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An unidentified drone has shelled the residence of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, a close politician to the senior leader wrote on social media on Saturday.
“Al-Hannana was bombed at dawn today by a drone in response to orders issued by his eminence for the Blue Caps to protect the revolutionaries [protesters] in Baghdad and Najaf last night,” Muhammad Saleh al-Iraqi wrote on Facebook.
Hannana is the area where Sadr lives. A source close to Sadr told Agence France-Presse that the unmanned drone dropped a bomb on Sadr’s home, but hit its outer wall.
The local Najaf government later denied that any planes had entered the province’s airspace over the past 24 hours and said the incident required an investigation. “No sounds of explosions were heard in Najaf and its surroundings.” It added that the attack could have been carried out using small consumer drones.
The incident occurred just hours after armed individuals killed upward to 23 protesters, according to Reuters, in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, and wounded over 127 others.
The Shia cleric is currently in Iran’s holy city of Qom on a religious-related visit. In anticipation of a bloody night, however, he urged his supporters to go to the protest square of Baghdad to protect demonstrators.
Videos that were posted on social media purported to show the cleric’s militias capturing perpetrators of the violence. Media reports claimed three Sadr supporters died in the shootings.
It was unclear who carried out Friday night’s attacks on protesters, which appeared the bloodiest night of violence since demonstrations began in early October. Parliament recently approved the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi in response to protest demands.
The interior ministry (police) announced that it had formed a commission of inquiry to investigate the attacks on protesters. A ministry spokesperson said security forces had cordoned off the area where the incident occurred in search of those responsible for the massacre.
A Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia group reportedly shot at demonstrators on Friday in another attempt to disperse protests near Baghdad’s bridges.
Since protests began, over 400 people have died, most of them killed by Iraqi security forces, while 17,000 others have been wounded.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany