BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP -Gunmen killed the son of Iraq’s top judge along with two of his bodyguards and dumped their bodies in Baghdad, officials said Saturday. Other attacks outside the capital killed five Iraqis and a U.S. soldier, police said.
The violence came as Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki struggled to put together his Cabinet, the final step in establishing a new government of national unity. The pace has been slow because of rivalries among Iraq’s political parties, most of which represent specific religious or ethnic groups.
Police found the bodies of Ahmed Midhat al-Mahmoud, 22, a lawyer, and two of his bodyguards Saturday in the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah, said Hasan Sabri the head of the local council and Iraq’s deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali.
The killings came five months after the judge, Midhat al-Mahmoud, survived a Dec. 4 suicide bomb attack against his home. Two people were injured in the attack.
The judge, a Shiite, heads the Supreme Judicial Council, a judicial supervisory body that swears in all judges and parliament, among other responsibilities.
The killings were the latest carried out against government officials or their families. It could also be part of a series of killings by death squads and militias, who have kidnapped and killed hundreds of Sunnis and Shiites, often motivated by sectarian hatred.
The bodies of three other Iraqis who had been kidnapped and tortured were found in the capital Saturday, police said.
A U.S. Army soldier died in a roadside bombing south of Baghdad at 4 a.m., officials said. His death raised to at least 2,437 the number of U.S. military members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
In Mosul, a mostly Sunni Arab city 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, suspected insurgents riding in what looked like a taxi shot and killed Idrees Shihatha, a local tribal sheik, as he drove his car, said police Brig. Abdul-Hamid al-Jibouri. In another part of Mosul, a drive-by shooting killed four Iraqis and wounded one, al-Jibouri said.
Frustration over delays in choosing a new Cabinet led one Shiite party, Fadhila, to announce Friday that it was withdrawing from the negotiations, saying the process was being driven by partisan self-interest and U.S. pressure.
The party said its 15 legislators will now form an opposition bloc in parliament.
Al-Maliki is working against a constitutional deadline of May 22 to present his Cabinet to the 275-member parliament for approval. Squabbles over top posts such as the oil, defense and interior ministries threaten to push the talks down to the wire.
Some lawmakers have suggested that al-Maliki could present some of his Cabinet on Sunday and take for himself the defense ministry — which controls Iraq’s military — and the interior portfolio — which oversees Iraqi police — until all parties agree on who should head them.
Eight Iraqis died in violence Friday, including a soldier and a civilian killed in an armed confrontation between two Iraqi army units.
The clash near Duluiyah, about 45 miles north of Baghdad, raised questions about the U.S.-trained force’s ability to maintain control at a time when sectarian and ethnic tensions are running high. The Americans hope the Iraqi army can take over security in most of the country by the end of the year.