Iraq devises new security plan to guard alcohol shops from pro-Iran militia attacks
More than 24 liquor stores were targeted in attacks over the past two months, according to a Tuesday report by The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Another five clubs in Baghdad were closed after owners received threats - including warnings in the form of stun grenades.
"This month saw nine attacks targeting liquor stores in the Karrada, Al-Waziriya, New Baghdad, and other areas. The last attack was on Monday night in the Dora area, south of Baghdad," an Iraqi police officer told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed
"The attacks were all carried out by improvised explosive devices which were placed at the gates of shops. They explosions caused severe damage [to the properties]," the officer said.
According to the source, the Iraqi government will roll out a plan to protect liquor shops across all districts in Baghdad. It has already gone into effect in specific high-risk areas, he said.
Under the security plan, security personnel will be deployed - from sunset till 10am - near liquor stores, which are licensed under Iraqi law.
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The initiative comes after shopkeepers filed lawsuits demanding compensation from the government after damages to their businesses in vigilante attacks.
Ahl Al-Maarouf ["People of Virtue"] - a militia brigade linked to Iran - has already reportedly warned security forces to stay away from shops selling alcohol, warning of imminent attacks.
"We ask them to stay away from these corrupt stores, because we will not stop targeting them until the soil of Baghdad has been cleared of their impurity," the group said in a statement circulated by Iraqi media.