BAGHDAD, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Iraqi security forces can protect the country against a possible coup as a security crackdown continues in the capital, the interior minister said.
Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Boulani announced his forces are fully capable of preventing a forceful overthrow of the government, Iraqi satellite channel al-Sumaria reports.
Military commanders ordered a lockdown of the capital, saying intelligence sources suggested as many as 14 car bomb plots were targeting government institutions and marketplaces in downtown Baghdad.
The Ministry of Health was a primary target mentioned in the alleged plots, al-Sumaria said.
Iraq is bracing for a rise in violence as the country prepares for March parliamentary elections. Observers worry simmering tensions between Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite leaders may erupt in violence as the campaign season gets under way.
Meanwhile, Massoud Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government, met with influential Shiite leader Ammar al-Hakim to discuss political developments in Iraq.
Barzani said he would call for a united front with the Shiite National Iraqi Alliance and Kurdish slates to preserve stability and maintain a democratic and federal Iraq.
"A strong Iraq should have a strong central government, strong provinces and constitution," added Hakim. "We are about to form a national Iraqi bloc and we call on all political blocs to participate."