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Iraqiya candidates are assassination targets

BAGHDAD — Gunmen killed two candidates from the Sunni-backed coalition that won the most seats in Iraq's March parliamentary election, slayings that the alliance said Saturday were part of a politically motivated campaign of assassinations.

Neither candidate was expected to take a seat in the new parliament as both failed to win enough votes. But the killings were the third and fourth of candidates from the secular Iraqiya alliance in recent months, raising concerns about political intimidation of the top vote-getting bloc in the March 7 election.

In Mosul, Faris Jassim al-Jubouri's attackers came to his home in the middle of the night dressed in army uniforms, according to brother Marwan Jassim, a police officer who was at the house. He said they demanded information about al-Jubouri, then found him sleeping on the roof, shot him three times, and fled. Police and morgue officials confirmed the killing.

In the town of Qaim in Anbar province, police said attackers planted a roadside bomb that killed Ehab al-Ani, a hospital official. The initial investigation indicated that al-Ani was not killed randomly, as many are by such explosives, but specifically targeted because of his ties to Iraqiya, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media. Qaim is about 200 miles west of Baghdad.

Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysoun Damlouji said both killings were part of a series of assassinations targeting party members.

"The Iraqiya list does not want to escalate the situation, but we won't sit silent over the killing of any Iraqi," Damlouji said. She said the killings are "targeting democracy and the political process."

Iraqiya, headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, has been at the center of a political showdown since Iraq's inconclusive parliamentary election.

The bloc won two more parliamentary seats than its closest rival, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but no single group secured an outright majority, making a coalition government necessary.

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