BAGHDAD - Gunmen killed two candidates from the Sunni-backed coalition that won the most seats in Iraq's March parliamentary election, slayings that the alliance said Saturday were part of a politically motivated campaign of assassinations.
Neither candidate was expected to take a seat in the new parliament, as both failed to win enough votes. But the killings were the third and fourth of candidates from the secular Iraqiya alliance in recent months, raising concerns about political intimidation of the top vote-getting bloc in the March 7 election.
In Mosul, Faris Jassim al-Jubouri's attackers came to his home in the middle of the night dressed in army uniforms, according to his brother Marwan Jassim, a police officer who was at the house. He said they demanded details about Jubouri, found him sleeping on the roof, shot him three times, and fled. Police and morgue officials confirmed the killing.
In Qaim in Anbar province, police said attackers planted a roadside bomb that killed hospital official Ehab al-Ani. The initial investigation indicated Ani was not killed randomly, as many are by such explosives, but targeted because of his ties to Iraqiya, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media. Qaim is about 200 miles west of Baghdad.
Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysoun Damlouji said both killings were part of a series of assassinations targeting party members. "The Iraqiya list does not want to escalate the situation, but we won't sit silent over the killing of any Iraqi," Damlouji said.
Iraqiya, headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, has been at the center of a political showdown since Iraq's inconclusive election.
The bloc won two more parliamentary seats than its closest rival, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but no single group secured an outright majority, making a coalition government necessary.
Maliki's Shiite-dominated party has joined with a Shiite religious bloc in hopes of capturing enough seats to run the next government.
Iraqiya received much of its support from Iraq's disaffected Sunni minority, which lost its political dominance with Saddam Hussein's 2003 ouster. There are fears that if Iraqiya is left out of the next government - despite its election win - Sunnis could feel further marginalized and violence could worsen.