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Suicide bomber kills Sunni leader in north Iraq

world Updated: Jan 20, 2009 03:27 IST
AFP
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A suicide bomber in northern Iraq killed four people on Monday, including a senior Sunni politician, in the latest violence to hit the country ahead of provincial elections, police said.

The bomber blew up his explosive belt inside Al-Sheikh Hassan Zaidan al-Lihaibi's guest house in Haj Ali village, killing him and three other people. Two others were wounded, a local police official told AFP.

Lihaibi, a former senior official in dictator Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard, was deputy leader of the National Dialogue Front, a Sunni party led by Salah al-Mutlak with 11 seats in the parliament

Lihaibi was also the father of Falah Hassan Zaidan al-Lihaibi, an MP with the National Dialogue Front, which has pushed for a politically centralised Iraq.

Police said guards refused to allow the young man inside, but Lihaibi signalled for him to be allowed in, greeting him before the bomber blew himself up.

The attack follows the murder in a drive-by shooting of a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's party list standing for election near the central city of Hilla.

The attack comes amid fears of a spike in violence as Iraq prepares for its first polls in four years.

Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, has 454 candidates vying for election -- the lowest number of candidates
among the 14 Iraqi provinces voting on January 31.

Haj Ali, part of Al-Ghayara district, is about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of restive Mosul, a city plagued by near daily car bombs and suicide attacks.

The area south of Mosul was also the scene of heavy fighting between US forces and Sunni Arab insurgents in 2003 and 2004, but has seen little violence since.

The US military considers Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, to be the last urban stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group believed to be behind scores of devastating bombings since the 2003 US-led invasion which toppled Saddam.

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