Sunni constitution drafting committee member killed in Iraq

Less than a month before Iraq's constitution should be presented one of the members of the drafting committee was killed in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Mijbil Issa was gunned down, along with two companions in a drive-by shooting, in the Karradah area of Baghdad, according to Mohammed Abed-Rabbou, a Sunni member of the drafting committee, says the AP.

Issa was among 15 Sunnis named last month to a committee charged with drafting a new constitution by Aug. 15. The Sunnis were added in an attempt to reach out to the religious community that provides the heart of the insurgency.

However, two Sunni committee members had already quit because of threats from the insurgents who oppose the U.S.-backed, Shiite dominated government.

The attack occurred as the committee drafting the constitution was holding a meeting at Baghdad's Convention Center on the edge of the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to U.S. embassy and Iraqi government offices.

The meeting was immediately adjourned when the head of the commission Humam Hammoudi got the news, Kurdish member Mahmoud Othman said.

As The Guardian reports, the number of Iraqi civilians who met violent deaths in the two years after the US-led invasion was today put at 24,865 by an independent research team.

The figures, compiled from Iraqi and international media reports, found US and coalition military forces were responsible for 37% of the deaths, with anti-occupation forces and insurgents responsible for 9%. A further 36% were blamed on criminal violence.

Earlier Iraq's president Jalal Talabani addressed hundreds of Shiite clerics, calling for national unity and saying a draft of the country's constitution would be completed by the August's deadline.

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