Reuters: Gunmen shot dead on Monday an Iraqi politician elected to parliament in March for the cross-sectarian Iraqiya coalition of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, police said.
By Jamal al-Badrani
MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – Gunmen shot dead on Monday an Iraqi politician elected to parliament in March for the cross-sectarian Iraqiya coalition of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, police said.
The killing of Bashar Mohammed Hamid al-Aqidi in the northern city of Mosul will further fuel tensions running high since an inconclusive March 7 election that Iraqis hoped would bring stable government after years of sectarian warfare.
Iraqiya, led by secular Shi’ite Allawi and heavily backed by Sunni voters, won two more seats than a mainly Shi’ite bloc headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, forcing fraught negotiations on either side to find a majority in parliament.
Aqidi was shot in the chest in front of his home in western Mosul and died a short time later, police said. His driver was also wounded and police said one suspect was arrested after Iraqi and U.S. forces cordoned off the area.
Prominent Sunni politician Osama al-Nujaifi, influential in the violent northern Nineveh province, appealed for protection for Iraqiya.
“Iraqiya now is the target for the terrorist powers and unfortunately for the government also,” he said on Al Arabiya television. “There must be a way to protect Iraqiya.”
The March election results have yet to be certified.
POSITIONING FOR POWER
The major Shi’ite groups, Maliki’s State of Law and the Iraqi National Alliance, which has close ties to Shi’ite neighbor Iran, have announced plans to unite to form the largest bloc in parliament.
But Allawi has warned that any attempt to marginalize his bloc could trigger renewed sectarian violence.
Aqidi, 33, was a businessman and held a university degree in computer science.
“We heard the sound of shooting then we came out immediately,” said Ali Hassan, a neighbor of Aqidi’s. “We found them lying on the ground and chaos surrounded the area. The relatives who were with Hamid said that the gunmen were on foot.”
Iraqiya media adviser Hani Ashour said Monday’s killing was part of a “campaign against Iraqiya to diminish its role.”
“It is not the first such event and we believe it will not be the last,” he said.
Aqidi’s was the first killing of a winning candidate since the election, although numerous government workers and police officials have been targeted in attacks before and after the vote.
In February, a female candidate running for Iraqiya in the election was shot dead in western Mosul.