Iraq deputy prime minister's convoy attacked by gunmen

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq survived an attack by gunmen who shot at his convoy west of Baghdad on Friday, the official state news agency reported.

Mutlaq was not hurt, but several people were wounded when the unknown assailants fired at the vehicles in the Abu Ghraib district, according to the National Iraqi News Agency. A shootout reportedly ensued between the gunmen and the guards and soldiers protecting the officials. The assailants eventually fled.

Also unharmed was lawmaker Talal Zobaie, who had accompanied Mutlaq and other government officials who were inspecting flood damage to the area caused by militants who tampered with a dam. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Violence has surged in the beleaguered oil-rich nation, which on April 30 will hold its first parliamentary elections since U.S. troops pulled out in 2011.

Islamic militants have targeted officials from the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. Both Mutlaq and Zobaie, who are Sunni, had called on politicians from across the country’s religious and ethnic spectrum to put aside their differences, according to the Associated Press.

In the upcoming elections, more than 9,000 candidates will compete for 328 seats in parliament.


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Tarek, a reporter from Cairo, is a visiting journalist at The Times sponsored by the Daniel Pearl Foundation in partnership with the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships.



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