19 Jan 2009

Suicide attack kills deputy head of Iraq Sunni party

7:07 pm on 19 January 2009

A suicide bomber has killed the deputy leader of Iraq's second-biggest Sunni Arab political bloc as he and other politicians met to discuss a forthcoming provincial election, the party's leader said.

Iraqi National Dialogue Front leader Saleh al-Mutlaq said the party's deputy leader, Hassan Zaidan al-Lihebi, was killed by a suicide bomber who stormed his house, shot at guards and blew himself up in a crowded reception room on Sunday.

Mr al-Mutlaq said many people were wounded in the attack.

Police sources said that between one and four other people were also killed, including a policeman, in the attack in the town of Qaiyara, south of the northern city of Mosul.

The sectarian violence that killed tens of thousands in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion has fallen dramatically in recent months, but suicide and car bombs remain common.

Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province have remained the most volatile part of Iraq. Militant Sunni groups such as al Qaeda, which often use suicide bombers, have made a stand in the area after being driven out of most of the rest of Iraq.

The province has also seen tension ahead of the 31 January provincial election between its large Sunni Arab population - who boycotted previous polls - and ethnic Kurds who control the current provincial council despite being a minority.