Iraq political dispute leads to gunfire at TV station

An argument between a member of Iraq's parliament and a political-party spokesman escalated on the evening of November 24, 2015 to involve gunfire at a TV station in Baghdad, photographed from the air on December 9, 2014 (AFP Photo/Mark Wilson)

Baghdad (AFP) - An argument between an Iraqi lawmaker and a political bloc spokesman escalated from angry words to gunfire at a television station in Baghdad, the men involved said on Wednesday.

The fracas between MP Kadhim al-Sayadi of the State of Law bloc and Citizen's Bloc spokesman Baligh Abu Gallal -- both members of Shiite parties -- broke out at the Dijla TV station on Tuesday night.

"Sayadi began to attack us verbally and then called his guards and began helping them try to take us outside the channel," Abu Gallal said in a statement received by AFP.

When that failed, "they began firing their personal pistols directly (at me)," he said.

Sayadi accused Abu Gallal of lying and denied direct involvement in the shooting, asserting that one of his guards opened fire, and that he was not carrying a weapon himself.

Sayadi said that "the dispute between us at the channel began when I requested that he stop targeting me in the media," to which Abu Gallal said that he "does not respond on this low level".

"The dispute escalated, and one of my guards opened fire" in the air, he said.

Sayadi was beaten in parliament by other lawmakers earlier this year after vocally objecting to voting procedures.

Iraq's 328-member parliament is riven by divisions within its Shiite majority as well as between it and Sunni Arab and Kurdish lawmakers, and has struggled to pass much in the way of significant legislation.