On Sunday, April 15, two candidates slated to run in Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections were attacked by unidentified assailants in Kirkuk and in Baghdad. The first assault, an assassination attempt employing a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) on Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) candidate Ammar Kahya, took place in Kirkuk's Khazra neighborhood. Though Kahya escaped the attack unscathed, one person was killed and 11 others were wounded. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the incident. The second attack, a small-arms attack likely intended to intimidate, reportedly targeted Member of Parliament (MP) Abdulkareem Abitan in the Dora area, in the south of Baghdad. Unidentified gunmen targeted his convoy as it was leaving a political rally; no casualties were reported. Additional attacks on parliamentary candidates are possible in Kirkuk, Baghdad, and other Iraqi cities ahead of the May 12 elections. Increased security measures (e.g. security checkpoints, blocked roads) are to be anticipated in urban areas in the coming weeks.
The campaign period for national legislative elections in Iraq began on April 14. The elections themselves will be held on May 12. Voters will select more than 300 members of parliament, who will in turn elect the president and prime minister. An elevated terrorist risk is expected for the duration of the campaign period, although the capabilities of militant groups such as the Islamic State (IS) remain limited.
On April 7, a suicide attack on the headquarters of the Al-Hal (Solution) political party in Anbar province, claimed by IS, resulted in the deaths of at least three people and wounded at least nine more.
High-profile attacks spur equally significant security responses, including enhanced checkpoint operations and more proactive operations, with resulting effects on everyday movement (transportation delays). Security measures are also augmented during sensitive times, such as surrounding national elections.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.