Iraqi journalist and son, 3, shot dead in Basra
10 February 2005 08:00
Gunmen in the southern Iraqi city of Basra shot dead a correspondent working for a United States-funded Arabic satellite television station on Wednesday, as more violence spread across the country.
In Baghdad, there was heavy fighting on Haifa Street, a militant stronghold close to the headquarters of the Iraqi government and US and British embassies. A senior police official was also reported missing.
The fighting came as officials announced that the results of the January 30 elections, which were due to be announced today, would be delayed.
Since polling day, the security crisis has returned to the streets of Iraq with a number of killings and suicide bombings.
In Wednesday's attack, gunmen shot dead the journalist Abdul Hussein Khazal at his home in Basra and killed his three-year-old son, Muhammad.
Khazal worked for al-Hurra, a Virginia-based network set up with US government funding as an alternative to the Arabic networks al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya. He was a member of the Islamic Dawa party, a powerful Shi'ite political group. He also ran a local newspaper and was a press officer for Basra city council.
Although Iraqi journalists have been targeted before, it is unusual to see such killings in towns such as Basra, in the Shia south, which have proved less violent than other areas of Iraq.
In separate incidents, two US soldiers were killed, the military said. One died from a gunshot wound at a base north of Balad, and the second was killed on Sunday while on patrol in the northern city of Mosul.
A gas pipeline near Beiji, north of Baghdad, was attacked and set on fire on Wednesday. Oil and gas pipelines are a frequent target for insurgents.
The announcement of the election results was being delayed because 300 ballot boxes needed to be recounted, officials said.
There have been accusations of irregularities, particularly in Mosul, where thousands of people said there were not enough ballot papers.
Farid Ayar, a spokesperson for the electoral commission, would not say where the 300 ballot boxes had come from. "We don't know when this will finish," he said. "This will lead to a little postponement in announcing the results."
Partial results show that a Shi'ite religious coalition dominated the voting, with a Kurdish alliance in second place and the US-appointed Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, in third.
Some politicians believe the Shi'ite coalition has won more than half of the seats in the new Parliament, putting it in a powerful position to shape the next government.
Once the results are out, politicians from different groups will have to strike a deal over who takes the key posts, particularly those of prime minister, president, and head of the national assembly. It is likely that the Sunni Arab community will be under-represented.
One of the more difficult tasks for the new government will be to oversee the trials of Saddam Hussein and his deputies. A legal expert said on Wednesday that the first trial was still weeks away.
The cases are being studied by investigative judges before they are passed to the court for trial.
Unlike the war crimes courts for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, these cases will be heard before a purely Iraqi court. That will allow the judge to impose the death sentence in the most extreme cases. -
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