Page last updated at 23:19 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

Iraq Sunni Arab politician killed

By Jonny Dymond
BBC News, Baghdad

Map of Iraq

A senior Sunni politician has been killed in a suicide bomb attack in northern Iraq.

Hassan Zaidan al-Luhaibi, vice- president of the Sunni National Dialogue bloc, was killed at a campaign meeting south of the city of Mosul.

Mr Luhaibi was leading his party's campaign for provincial elections to be held at the end of this month.

The elections - the first for three years - are seen as a key test for the process of national reconciliation.

Sunni Arabs and some Shia groups boycotted the last provincial polls, leading to the election of what some Iraqis see as unrepresentative local councils.

Increase in violence

Elections in Iraq are often preceded by an increase in violence. The run-up to the vote for provincial councils at the end of the month appears to be no different.

Accounts of how Mr Luhaibi's killer got into the campaign meeting differ, but his death has been confirmed by the police and the leader of his political party.

As well as being the deputy leader of the National Dialogue bloc, and a member of the national parliament, Mr Luhaibi was also a candidate in the provincial elections.

The National Dialogue bloc is one of the larger groups in the Iraqi Parliament Sunni Muslim Accordance Front.

An eyewitness has also told the BBC that four local leaders had been killed in the attack, but that has not been confirmed by the police.

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