Iraqi lawmaker survives assassination attempt

Associated Press
FILE - In this Tuesday, July 13, 2010 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division board a C-17 aircraft at Baghdad International Airport as they begin their journey to the United States. Iraq's prime minister said Wednesday, May 11, 2011 that he might ask thousands of U.S. troops to remain in the country next year provided that a solid majority of the main political parties back the request at a meeting this month. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
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An Iraqi lawmaker from the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc escaped an assassination attempt Thursday in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.

Two bombs planted on the first floor of the house of Arshad al-Salehi, a Turkomen member of the Iraqiya political alliance, exploded shortly after sunrise but missed their target, said Kirkuk police chief Maj. Gen. Jamal Tahir.

Though al-Salehi and his family were inside, they all were sleeping on the second floor and nobody was injured, Tahir said. Two more bombs were found upstairs but did not detonate. It was not immediately clear how the attackers might have gotten inside the house.

"That was absolutely a terrorist attack meant to assassinate me and to kill my family," said al-Salehi, who was chosen this week as the leader of the Turkomen Front, a local party in Kirkuk. "I leave it to the security forces to investigate the incident and to find out who was behind it."

Ethnic tensions have long simmered in Kirkuk among Kurds, Turkomen and Arabs, who each want to claim the city's power as theirs. Located about 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Kirkuk sits atop of about a third of Iraq's oil reserves.

Officials now are questioning more than 30 guards stationed near the house in central Kirkuk, according to another policeman who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, an Iraqi army patrol hit a roadside bomb that wounded six people, officials said.

Violence has dropped dramatically around Iraq over the last several years, but extremists are seizing on the country's unstable political horizon to raise new threats against lawmakers and security forces.

Nearly five months after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seated his government, parliament approved three candidates for vice presidents on Thursday. The decision adds a new vice presidency post to the already top-heavy government.

Vice Presidents Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, and Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite, remained in the positions they have held for the last four years, and Khudayer al-Khuzaie, a Shiite from Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party, got the third seat.

Iraq's government has 44 Cabinet ministers.

Iraq is still without permanent defense or interior ministers — two of the top posts — as al-Maliki and parliament bicker over whom to name.

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