Suicide bomber in Iraq kills manager of election campaign

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber killed a campaign manager for a major Sunni party near Iraq's northern city of Mosul on Sunday, the latest sign that ethnic and sectarian tensions are rising ahead of this month's provincial elections.

Police said the attacker detonated his explosives inside the reception area of Hassan al-Luheibi's home in Qayara, 40 miles south of Mosul, after saying he had pressing business to discuss.

Bodyguards kept the bomber from going inside, but Luheibi emerged from the inner rooms to investigate the commotion and was killed in the blast, according to Col. Safaa Abdul-Razzaq. Two guards also were wounded, he said.

A police officer at the scene later said a fellow officer was also killed in the attack and three other people — including two officers — were wounded.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but the competition in the runup to the Jan. 31 vote for provincial councils is expected to be fierce in Mosul, with Sunni Arab politicians and their rival Kurds jockeying for power.

In its first report of problems with the elections process, the commission overseeing the vote said about 30 of the more than 14,000 candidates have been disqualified for violating rules, including submission of forged documents and being members of the former ruling Baath Party or the Iraqi security forces.

Iraq's independent electoral commission also said it was investigating allegations that nearly 60 candidates have lied about their level of education. They are required to have at least a high school degree.

Voters are set to choose members of ruling councils in 14 of the 18 provinces. More than 14,000 candidates are running for 444 council seats.

In another political development, Iraqi lawmakers moved to break the deadlock over the choice of a new speaker by agreeing to form a committee to choose a candidate after Sunnis failed to reach consensus on a nominee, the deputy speaker said.

Suicide bomber in Iraq kills manager of election campaign 01/18/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 18, 2009 9:31pm]

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