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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 09:51 GMT
Top official shot dead in Baghdad
Bullet whole in the windscreen of Kassim Imhawi's car
Insurgents have often targeted Iraqi government officials
Gunmen have killed a senior official in Iraq's communication ministry as he was driving to work in central Baghdad.

Kassim Imhawi was hit by gunmen who pulled up beside him as he travelled into the city from a western suburb.

Mr Imhawi was director-general of the ministry and a senior adviser to the interim Iraqi government.

The killing comes days after interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi warned that insurgents were expected to increase attacks ahead of elections in January.

Eight of Mr Imhawi's bodyguard were injured in the attack, in the Jamia district of Baghdad, the Associated Press reported.

Insurgents have frequently targeted Iraqi government officials and ministry compounds.

They view the interim government as collaborators with the US.

UN deployment

Despite continuing security fears throughout Iraq, the UN is preparing to expand its presence in the country in an effort to smooth the running of elections.

Under pressure from the US, the UN is likely to establish a presence in the southern city of Basra and the northern city of Irbil.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is to meet discuss the plans in Washington on Thursday with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and his successor Condoleezza Rice.

The UN has maintained a minimal but growing presence in Iraq since a bomb attack on its Baghdad headquarters in August 2003 killed a senior UN envoy and 21 others.

After pulling out of Iraq for a year, Secretary General Kofi Annan has allowed foreign staff to return in small numbers.

The UN has less than 60 staff currently in Iraq and plans to have just 25 electoral experts in the country for the 30 January elections, alongside around 150 Fijian peacekeeping troops currently being trained.

Reuters Iraq War Crimes Tribunal Flawed -- Rights Group - 47 mins ago
Herald Tribune Saddam Meets Lawyer, Aides Due in Court - 5 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Man murdered as 'present to Berlusconi', militants claim - 6 hrs ago
The Hindu Top Iraqi official killed, cleric attacked - 7 hrs ago
Independent Iraqi official killed as violence continues - 8 hrs ago
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