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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 May 2007, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Leading Muslim calligrapher shot
By James Shaw
BBC News, Baghdad

One of the Muslim world's leading calligraphers has been shot dead by gunmen in Baghdad.

Khalil al-Zahawi was the most famous practitioner in Iraq of the art of writing classical Arabic script.

He was outside his house in the New Baghdad district of the city on Saturday when he was ambushed by gunmen and killed.

The art of writing classical Arabic script is highly regarded in Iraq and the rest of the Muslim world.

Attack on culture

Mr Zahawi's body has been taken to his home in Diyala province for burial.

In the 1990s, he taught students from all over the Middle East.

It is said that anyone in Iraq who wanted to be considered proficient in Arabic calligraphy had to have his seal of approval.

His death will be seen as another attack on culture and learning by insurgent groups and militias in Iraq who in the past have targeted scientists, doctors and academics.

In a separate incident, police say they have found 12 bodies in Dora in south-east Baghdad.

The victims, aged between their 20s and 40s, had been blindfolded and shot in the head. They also showed signs of torture.

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