ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Security sources and witnesses on Thursday said a Kurdish candidate in the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections had survived an assassination attempt in an armed attack in the disputed town of Khanaqin.
Unknown gunmen on late Wednesday raided the car of Avin Mohammad Hassan al-Zahawi, a candidate for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), on the highway between Aliawa and Khanaqin, a security source said.
The source told Kurdistan 24 that the candidate was slightly injured and taken to hospital for treatment. Witnesses confirmed the same reports.
No one has claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt yet. However, the Islamic State (IS), who have remerged in the country in recent weeks, has already threatened to target candidates, voters, and anyone who supports the May 12 elections.
Khanaqin, a mainly Kurdish town, is located 100 kilometers northeast of Baquba in Diyala Province.
Khanaqin is one of the disputed territories between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Wednesday’s assassination attempt comes two days after the murder of a candidate for the National Coalition (al-Wataniya) led by current Iraqi Vice-President Ayad Allawi in the town of Qayara in southern Mosul.
Despite IS claiming responsibility for the killing of the National Coalition candidate, a spokesperson for the Supreme Judicial Council confirmed the murder was a criminal offense related to a family dispute and “not connected to terrorist crimes.”
Since the start of the electoral campaign, at least five candidates have been killed in Baghdad, Basra, and Kirkuk.
Nearly 7,000 candidates, representing different parties, including from the Kurdistan Region, are competing to fill 329 seats in the Iraqi Parliament.