Bombs kill 5, injure 26 near house linked to Sunni parliamentary candidate in Iraq

Associated Press / March 29, 2010

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BAGHDAD — Several bombs exploded yesterday near a house linked to a prominent Sunni figure who ran in this month’s parliamentary elections in Iraq, killing five people and wounding 26 others, a police official said.

The attack adds to fears of postelection violence as the bitter election rivals enter what are expected to be drawn out talks on forming the next government that will rule Iraq as US troops leave by the end of 2011.

Yesterday’s blasts took place in the town of Qaim, about 200 miles west of Baghdad and on the border with Syria, the police official said.

The first bomb, planted at a house under construction, went off at 7 a.m. in a busy area of Qaim. As onlookers gathered, four more bombs hidden in trash littered around the site detonated, causing the casualties.

The official said the house belongs to a brother of Sheik Murdhi Muhammad al-Mahalawi, a Sunni candidate who ran on the Iraqiya list led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, the top vote-getter in the March 7 balloting.

Neither Mahalawi’s brother nor any construction workers were at the site when the bombs went off, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Initially the official had said the house belonged to Mahalawi, but later both he and a family member said it belonged to the candidate’s brother, Turki.

The family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears for personal safety, said two of Mahalawi’s cousins, who live next door, died in the blasts.

The win in March 7 parliamentary elections by Allawi’s secular bloc, which got 91 seats, two seats more than Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s group, reflected an extraordinarily close race.