Sister of Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president is killed

A sister of Iraq's new Sunni Arab vice president was killed in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad on Thursday, police said.

Mayson Ahmed Bakir al-Hashimi, whose brother, Tariq al-Hashimi, was appointed by parliament as vice president on Saturday, was killed by unidentified gunmen in a BMW sedan as she was leaving her home at 8 a.m. with her bodyguard in southwestern Baghdad, said police Capt. Jamel Hussein. The bodyguard, Saad Ali, also died in the shooting, Hussein said.

It was the second recent killing in Tariq al-Hashimi's immediate family. On April 13, his brother, Mahmoud al-Hashimi, was shot while driving in a mostly Shiite area of eastern Baghdad.

Thursday's killings came as Jawad al-Maliki, a Shiite hard-liner recently tapped as Iraq's prime minister, is trying to form a new national unity government aimed at stopping a wave of sectarian violence in Iraq.

Al-Malika has 30 days to assemble a Cabinet from divided Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties. The most contentious question will be filling key ministries that control security forces amid demands to purge them of militias blamed for the rise in sectarian bloodshed.

The killing of the vice president's sister came as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were visiting Baghdad to meet with officials in the new Iraqi government.

After the drive-by shooting, two of the vice president's brothers, one an army officer, raced to the scene to recover the bodies of their sister and Ali, Capt. Hussein said.

On Wednesday, Vice President al-Hashimi had made a show of unity with his Kurdish and Shiite colleagues, calling for Iraq's insurgency to be put down by force, reports the AP.


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