Gunmen kill Iraqi official who purged Saddam loyali

Reuters News
Posted: May 26, 2011 4:09 PM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Gunmen Thursday killed a senior Iraqi politician who helped purge members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party from politics in the latest of a wave of killings targeting politicians and officials.

Violence in Iraq has eased since the height of sectarian slaughter between Sunni and Shi'ite militias, but bombings and attacks continue daily. Local government officials, police and army officers are now often targeted for assassination.

Two gunmen using silenced weapons killed Ali al-Lami while he was driving his car in eastern Baghdad, security officials said.

"He was killed ... he was alone with his driver without any security," said Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, Baghdad security operations spokesman.

Lami, a Shi'ite Muslim, played a key role in the de-Baathification committee that was formed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to ensure Baath party loyalists of Saddam did not return to power in the new government.

His efforts to ban Baathist candidates running in last year's March election risked fueling sectarian tensions after angering minority Sunnis who felt they were unfairly treated because some of their politicians were disqualified.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki formed a multi-sectarian coalition government in December after nine months of political wrangling following the inconclusive election results in March.

(Reporting by Baghdad newsroom; Editing by Angus MacSwan)