Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say

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BAGHDAD: The US ambassador to Iraq condemned attacks on Western-linked brands in Baghdad on Thursday, as anger grows across the Middle East over Israel’s war in Gaza.
A stun bomb exploded at 1:20 a.m. in front of a dealership of the US construction equipment company Caterpillar in the Jadriyah district of Baghdad, Iraqi security forces said.
Ten minutes later, an explosion detonated outside the Cambridge Institute on nearby Palestine Street. A local resident identified the building as possibly an Iraqi language learning center.
On Sunday, an improvised bomb was thrown at a branch of the US fast-food chain KFC, causing only minor damage. The following night, masked men broke into another branch and smashed glass.
“We condemn the recent violent attacks on U.S. and international companies,” U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Alina Romanowski said on the social media platform X.
She called on the Iraqi government to “conduct thorough investigations, bring those responsible to justice and prevent future attacks.”
“These attacks endanger Iraqi lives and property and could weaken Iraq’s ability to attract foreign investment,” the US diplomat added.
Iraqi security forces said Thursday’s attacks, the motives of which remained unknown, caused no damage or injuries, adding that they were a “desperate attempt to damage Iraq’s reputation.”
Following the attacks on KFC, security forces said they had arrested several suspects.
Since the Gaza war began in October, a boycott movement led by pro-Palestinian activists has targeted major Western brands such as Starbucks and McDonald’s.
Iraq does not recognize Israel’s statehood and all its political parties support the Palestinian cause.
Earlier this week, influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada Sadr reiterated his call for the US embassy in Baghdad to be closed “through diplomatic means and without bloodshed” after an Israeli attack on a camp in the Gaza Strip killed dozens of civilians.

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