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Iraqi Communications Official Shot Dead

16 December 2004 -- A senior official in Iraq's Communications Ministry was shot dead as he was driving to work in Baghdad today.

A Communications Ministry official, Abbas Muhammad, identified the victim as Deputy Minister Qasim Mehawi.

His death is the latest in a series of killings of Iraqi officials. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has warned insurgents will likely increase violence in the run-up to elections set for 30 January.

Yesterday, Defense Minister Hazim al-Sha'lan al-Khuza'i accused Iran and Syria of organizing terrorist attacks in Iraq. Both countries deny the charges.

Also today, the pan-Arab, Saudi-owned daily newspaper "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" temporarily closed its office in Baghdad after receiving threats, but said that it will continue to cover news in Iraq.


[For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]