Sunni lawmaker in Iraq killed by suicide bomber

Qassim Abdul-Zahra, The Associated Press
January 15, 2013

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber killed a Sunni lawmaker Tuesday in a part of western Iraq that has been the scene of weeks of anti-government protests, officials said.

While it is unclear who carried out the attack, the killing is likely to heighten tensions between the central government and minority Sunnis who have been demanding reforms to policies they believe unfairly target their sect.

The governor of Anbar province, Qassim al-Fahdawi, said that lawmaker Ifan Saadoun was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the restive city of Fallujah on Tuesday.

The parliamentarian was part of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, which holds some posts in Iraq's loose power-sharing government but is at the same time the main force in opposition to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's administration.

Anbar province, which is dominated by Iraq's Sunni minority, has been the scene of more than three weeks of protests against the Shiite-led government.

They were sparked by the arrest of bodyguards assigned to Iraq's Sunni finance minister, Rafia al-Issawi, who comes from the same tribe as the lawmaker killed Tuesday.

According to police and hospital officials, the parliamentarian was inspecting a project when the suicide bomber approached him and pretended that he was trying to shake hands, then blew himself up.

One of the lawmaker's bodyguards was killed as well, and 4 other people were wounded, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details to journalists.

Mohammed al-Khaldi, another member of parliament from the Iraqiya bloc, condemned the attack and demanded an investigation into how the security breach happened.

"The situation in the country is tense and this attack will complicate things here. A solution must be sorted out soon and we demand that the government provide protection to the protesters in order to prevent further security breaches," he said.

Mohammed Fathi, a spokesman for the Anbar provincial council, said officials have declared a three-day mourning period in the province.

___

Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub and Adam Schreck contributed reporting.