x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Iraq foils French embassy bomb plot

Security forces said the arrest of 12 suspected al Qa'eda members has also thwarted a plan to attack the embassy.

BAGHDAD // Iraqi security forces foiled a plot to bomb the French Embassy in Baghdad after arresting 12 suspected al Qa'eda members in connection with an attack on a Christian church, security officials said yesterday.

The al Qa'eda cell responsible for the October 31 church assault, which ended with 52 hostages and police killed, intended to prepare a car bomb for an attack on the embassy, officials said.

In April, suicide bombers launched coordinated car bomb attacks on the Iranian, Egyptian and German embassies in the capital, killing up to 40 people and wounding more than 200.

Iraqi security forces said on Saturday they had arrested al Qa'eda's Baghdad leader and 11 other members of the militant group for involvement in the attack on the Our Lady of Salvation cathedral. Militants took more than 100 Christian hostages during Sunday mass.

"The reason for targeting the embassy was because the French embassy is very active… and there is investment activity among French companies in the whole country," an Iraqi security official said.

France has been on high alert due to tensions over the presence of its forces in Afghanistan and the country's ban on full-length Islamic veils.