A BROTHER of one of Iraq's two vice-presidents was shot and killed yesterday on his way to work in Baghdad.
Cabinet adviser Ghalib Abdul-Mahdi, the brother of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the vice-president, was gunned down while travelling to the office of the prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, government aides said.
The Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, said Mr Abdul-Mahdi was "martyred" in the attack, which also killed his driver.
"I am sure you will turn this sadness and agony into a feeling of hatred toward the killers," Mr Talabani said in a message of condolence.
Ghalib Abdul-Mahdi had earlier been reported wounded in the attack. Al-Qaeda later claimed responsibility on a website often used by the group.
His brother, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, is a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Iraq's largest Shiite political party and senior partner in the US-backed ruling coalition.
In a separate incident, police said deputy trade minister Qais Dawoud Hassan was wounded in the shoulder when his motorcade was ambushed by gunmen in Baghdad, killing two of his bodyguards. A passer-by and six other guards were wounded in the attack in the Baghdad district of Mansour. Sunni Arab militants frequently target government officials as part of their campaign against the Shiite and Kurdish-led government.
Nine Iraqi civilians also died in insurgent attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere, a day after a bomb killed 30 people in a Shiite village north-east of the capital.
The surge in violence occurred as Iraq's political blocs unveiled their lists of candidates for parliamentary elections on 15 December, which the US and its coalition partners hope will help restore enough stability that they can begin sending home their forces next year.
US command said that its forces had attacked militants planning an ambush near the Taji airbase near Baghdad on Saturday, killing six militants and capturing five others.
Also on Saturday, a bomb hidden in a truck loaded with dates exploded in the Shiite village of Huweder, north of Baghdad, killing 30 people.