Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Explosion kills two candidates ahead of Iraq vote

Explosion kills two candidates ahead of Iraq vote

Iraqi men look at an electoral campaign banner for the upcoming
provincial elections bearing flood pictures  and the slogan "They
drowned Baghdad with their corruption" in Baghdad on 25 March
2013. (Photo: AFP - Sabah Arar)

Published Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A powerful bomb tore through an armored car in a town north 
of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing two officials and badly 
wounding a third, weeks ahead of Iraq's first polls since 2010.

Mayor Shallah Abdul, council chief Abdulqader Naimi and 
Salaheddin provincial councillor Rashid Khorshid had been 
travelling together to inspect a road paving project north of 
the town when the bomb went off close to their armored car.

Naimi and Khorshid, both candidates in provincial elections 
due to be held on April 20, were killed, and Abdul was 
badly wounded and transported to a hospital in the Kurdish 
city of Sulaimaniyah.

The blast, which also killed one of the officials' bodyguards 
and wounded another in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, brings to 
11 the number of candidates in the provincial council elections 
who have been killed.

Authorities have already postponed the polls in two large
provinces, throwing doubt on the credibility of the vote, Iraq's 
first since the March 2010 parliamentary elections.

Tuz Khurmatu, home to about 110,000 Arabs, Kurds and 
Shiite Turkmen, lies 175 kilometers north of Baghdad at the 
center of a tract of disputed territory claimed by both the 
mostly-Arab government in Baghdad and the autonomous 
Kurdish region.

The dispute is often cited by officials and diplomats as the 
biggest long-term threat to Iraq's stability.

The establishment in September of the federal Tigris 
Operations Command, which covers disputed northern 
territory, drew an angry response from Kurdish leaders and 
increased tensions with the federal government.

Then on November 16, a firefight broke out during an attempt 
by Iraqi forces to arrest a Kurdish man in the town, which 
killed one person and wounded others.

The crisis, which Iraq's parliament speaker warned could 
lead to civil war, has since eased, but the dispute over 
territory remains unresolved.

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