Thursday, November 24, 2005

Iraqi tribal Sunni leader slain in home by men wearing Iraqi army uniforms

(AP) BAGHDAD, Iraq — Gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms broke into the home of a senior Sunni leader on Wednesday and killed him, his three sons and his son-in-law on the outskirts of Baghdad, his brother and an interior ministry official said.

Khadim Sarhid al-Hemaiyem was the leader of the Sunni Batta tribe and the brother of a parliamentary candidate in the Dec. 15 election, the official, Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi, said. Another of the slain man's brothers said the family has been attacked before.

"A group of gunmen with Iraqi army uniforms and vehicles broke into my brother's house in the Hurriyah area and sprayed them with machine gun fire, killing him along

with three sons and his son-in law,"
said his brother, Nima Sarhid Al-Hemaiyem. "His eldest son was assassinated one month ago in the Taji area, northern Baghdad, when unidentified men shot and killed him." Al-Mohammedawi said government forces were not involved and the investigation was focused on insurgents.

"Surely, they are outlaw insurgents. As for the military uniform, they can be bought from many shops in Baghdad," he said. "Also, we have several police and army vehicles stolen and they can be used in the raids."

The Batta tribe is one of Iraq's largest Sunni tribes from the area north of Baghdad, where they are influential. Dozens of people went to al-Hemaiyem's home, where the bodies were laid out, wrapped in blankets before the funeral.

The slaying follows a big push by U.S. officials to encourage Sunni Muslim participation in the upcoming election, which will install the first non-transitional government in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Some Sunni-led insurgent groups have declared a boycott of the election and have threatened politicians who choose to participate in it.

More than 160 Iraqis, most of them Shiites, have died in a wave of spectacular suicide operations across Iraq since Friday.


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