Gunmen killed local Iraqi leader, his 3 sons

A suicide bombing near Basra  killed more than 50 people on January 14. Over the past two weeks, hundreds of Iraqis have been killed and wounded in violence across the country.

Story highlights

  • Authorities say hundreds of Iraqis have been killed and wounded in recent weeks
  • Much of the violence is believed to be sectarian
  • Opposition politicians are boycotting parliament and Cabinet meetings
  • Many fear the political unrest could lead to more violence

Gunmen stormed a home in a small town south of Baghdad early Wednesday, killing a local leader and three of his sons, police said.

Sabbar Mohammed, the leader of Al-Boasaj, was fatally shot while he was sleeping, according to police.

The attackers wounded a fourth son, who is a member of the local Awakening Council.

Awakening Councils, also known as the Sons of Iraq, mainly comprise Sunni Arab fighters who turned against al Qaeda in late 2006. The U.S.-backed movement is credited as among the main factors that contributed to a drop in violence.

Council members have become targets for jihadists.

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Over the past two weeks, hundreds of Iraqis have been killed and wounded in violence across the country, raising concerns about the ability of security forces to do their job.

Despite a decrease in overall violence in Iraq, it still touches Iraqis almost every day. Ordinary Iraqis say the violence is largely sectarian, with the once-dominant Sunni Muslims believing Shiites are responsible, and the majority Shiites blaming Sunni insurgents.

    The violence comes as Iraq's Council of Ministers decided to ban members who are boycotting Cabinet meetings, a government spokesman said Tuesday night.

    The banned ministers will not be allowed to manage their ministries, according to spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

    Last month, the Sunni-backed Iraqiya party announced it would boycott Parliament and Cabinet meetings, saying Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, was cutting it out of the decision-making process.

    Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysoun Damluji said the Iraqiya bloc is not surprised by the prime minister's move, calling it unconstitutional and illegal.

    She said it has become obvious that al-Maliki is not interested in sharing power.

    But Iraq's political crisis deepened last year when a warrant was issued for Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who is accused of organizing his security detail into a death squad that targeted government and military officials.

    Al-Hashimi has denied the charges, saying the accusations are politically motivated amid the rivalry between his political bloc and al-Maliki's Shiite majority bloc.

    Two weeks ago, Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, called for a "national conference" to address the political crisis, which many fear could lead to further violence.

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