Three candidates killed ahead of Iraq vote

BAGHDAD  – Gunmen killed three candidates on Thursday in separate incidents two days before provincial elections in Iraq, police said.

Police said all three were from the Sunni Arab minority.

Hazem Salem Ahmed, a candidate from the National Unity List, was shot outside his home in Mosul, the volatile capital of Nineveh province in Iraq’s north.

In Baghdad’s Amiriya district, gunmen killed candidate Omar Faruq al-Ani from the Iraqi Islamic Party near his house after a campaign rally.

Candidate Abbas Farhan from the National Movement of Reform and Development was gunned down in a village near the town of Mandili in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad near the Iranian border, also after a campaign rally.

At least two other candidates have been killed in recent weeks, but U.S. and Iraqi authorities say there has not been an overall increase in violence ahead of the provincial polls, Iraq’s first elections since 2005.

Many Sunni Arabs boycotted the last provincial vote four years ago and Saturday’s election is hotly contested within the community.

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