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4 students killed in Iraqi violence ahead of polls

world Updated: Jan 21, 2009 17:12 IST
Baghdad Islamic university

A car bomb attack targeting a Sunni politician who heads a Baghdad Islamic university killed four students on Wednesday, underscoring a recent surge of violence, officials said.

At least 10 people were wounded in the attack that hit the convoy of Ziyad al-Ani, chairman of the university in Adhamiyahm, a Sunni Muslim enclave of the predominantly Shiite northeast of the Iraqi capital.

Al-Ani, a senior official of the Iraqi Islamic Party which will contest Iraq's provincial elections on January 31, escaped unharmed but two of his bodyguards were among the wounded.

An interior ministry official told AFP the four victims were students, while a hospital official confirmed four people had been killed.

In a separate incident Wednesday, a makeshift explosive device targeting a police patrol in Kirkuk, 250 kilometres (160 miles) north of Baghdad, killed one civilian and injured another, General Adel Zaine el-Abedine said.

The latest violence followed the deaths of seven people in a string of attacks across Iraq on Tuesday that also saw at least 22 people wounded, as new US President Barack Obama pledged to "leave Iraq to its people."

Attacks have fallen sharply across Iraq in recent months, according to US commanders, although they admit insurgents are still able to strike and that this is likely to increase before this month's polls.

In his inauguration speech in Washington, Obama vowed to seek a "new way forward" with the Muslim world.

Obama said new threats "demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations."

"We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan," he said.