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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Iraqi woman MP killed in Baghdad
Iraqi women MPs at the country's National Assembly
About 90 women sit in Iraq's 275-member National Assembly
A Iraqi woman MP has been shot dead by suspected insurgents on the doorstep of her home in Baghdad.

Lamia Abed Khadouri, a member of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's coalition, is the first MP killed since elections at the end of January.

Police said gunmen knocked at her door and shot her when she answered.

The attack came as the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Gen Richard Myers, warned that Iraqi militants remain as strong as a year ago.

Gen Myers said that between 50 and 60 attacks are carried out across Iraq each day, the same number as during 2004.

A BBC correspondent at the Pentagon says US optimism in the wake of Iraq's elections has now disappeared.

The US has recently pressed Iraq's newly sworn-in leaders to end weeks of political deadlock with an official announcement of a new government.

Public threat

Mrs Khadouri was attacked shortly after she arrived back at her home following a session of the country's parliament.

The killers fled and escaped after shooting her dead.

We must have a cabinet appointed here very quickly. The ministries must continue to work.
Gen Richard Myers
Chairman, US joint chiefs of staff
Unlike many high-profile members of Iraq's National Assembly, Mrs Khadouri did not employ a permanent security detail, relying instead on her sons for protection.

Although she is the first MP to be killed since January's elections, insurgents have publicly threatened to attack any Iraqi who took part in the poll.

Mr Allawi was himself the target of an attack last week. He escaped a car bomb that killed one policeman and injured two others.

The killing of Mrs Khadouri came amid reports that Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Jaafari was close to announcing his proposals for a new government.

It remained unclear when parliament would be asked to vote on any list.

Worthy cause?

Speaking in Washington, Gen Myers insisted US and Iraqi forces were "winning" the fight against insurgents, despite no downturn in the number of attacks.

Iraqi soldiers guard a road leading to the National Assembly
Security has remained tight around Baghdad's Green Zone
At a Pentagon briefing, he stressed that political progress in Iraq would be a key factor in undermining the insurgency.

"The political process must go forward," he said.

"We must have a cabinet appointed here very quickly. The ministries must continue to work.

"People must focus on two things: developing a constitution and developing their ministries into functioning ministries that continue to help."

The BBC's Adam Brookes at the Pentagon says the US wants to see whether or not the new government in Baghdad can entrench itself and become a cause that Iraqis will deem worth fighting for.

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