String of assassination attempts kills 4 in Baghdad and Anbar province in Iraq

By Michael Hastings
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, December 27, 2009

BAGHDAD -- A string of assassination attempts in Baghdad and in the Sunni areas west of the capital over the past two days has killed four people, including a member of a Sunni political party and a prominent tribal leader, police officials said.

Mohammed Mehdi, a member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, was killed Saturday evening by a magnetic device known as a sticky bomb near the group's headquarters in Baghdad, a party official said.

Earlier in the day, tribal sheik Mahmoud Hussein al-Obeidi was killed in the town of Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, when a sticky bomb blew up his car, which was parked outside his home, according to Capt. Hassan al-Timimee of the Fallujah police.

Obeidi, who was a supporter of the Iraqi Accordance Front, a Sunni coalition, was the latest political leader to be killed in a series of apparent attempts to discourage participation in national elections scheduled for March 7.

Obeidi had no bodyguards with him because he was on his way to morning prayers, Timimee said.

In Fallujah, a city in Anbar province about 35 miles west of Baghdad, a bomb detonated Saturday in front of the house of Maj. Ghazi Dura, commander of an Iraqi police counterterrorism unit in the province. The attack injured Dura and killed his son, according to police officials.

On Friday night, Saad al-Mashhadani, a university professor in Fallujah, was critically wounded in an attack that killed his brother and wounded two of his security guards.

"The past two months have seen the highest number of assassination attempts," said Maj. Raheem Zain al-Dulaimi, a police spokesman in Anbar. "They've been aimed at religious figures, politicians, police officers and sheiks of the tribes."

"In the past month, 40 people have been targeted," he said.

According to Dulaimi, 90 percent of the assassination attempts have been carried out with imported sticky bombs.

Timimee, of the Fallujah police, said the bomb that killed Obeidi "looked like an Iranian one."

In other violence in the capital Saturday on the eve of the Shiite holiday of Ashura, a bombing that targeted Shiite pilgrims in the southeast killed two people and wounded eight, according to the Interior Ministry.

Hastings is a special correspondent for The Washington Post. Special correspondent Othman Mukhtar contributed to this report.

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