Abadi says fire at ballot box warehouse 'a plot to sabotage' Iraq's democracy

Plumes of smoke rise after a fire broke out at Baghdad's largest storage site for ballot boxes.

(CNN)A Baghdad warehouse being used to store ballot boxes for Iraq's contested parliamentary election caught fire on Sunday, ahead of a nationwide recount effort.

The fire started hours after a number of judges were officially tasked with carrying out the manual process of recounting the votes from May's election.
The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi released a statement Sunday calling the incident a "plot to sabotage the country and its democratic process."
"We will take the necessary steps and will strike with an iron fist anyone who wishes to destabilize the security of the country and its citizens," the statement read.
    Iraq's civil defense force was able to contain the fire and stop it from spreading to the main warehouse housing the majority of the ballots, according to General Saad Maan, spokesman for Iraq's Interior Ministry.
    In a video sent to the media, Maan is shown pointing to the main warehouse and saying that the fire was contained before reaching it.
    A thick cloud of black smoke billowed in the background as Maan showed the complex, which contains a number of smaller warehouses.
    Iraqi security forces and firefighters gather as smoke rises from the blaze.
    It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, the extent of the damage, or whether it would affect the planned recount.

    Judges named to head recount

    Earlier on Sunday, the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council named the judges who will take over the independent electoral commission to carry out the manual recount of last month's elections as per the parliament's recommendation, according to a statement.
    The May 12 elections gave the lead to a coalition led by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but a new government has yet to be formed.
    The elections were marred by complaints about the alleged manipulation of the electronic voting system used for the first time in May.