A Sunni Arab lawmaker has been killed in a roadside ambush by "unidentified gunmen" today as his convoy travelled near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar province, sources in Iraq have revealed.
According to sources as well as social media activists, Abduladheem Al-Ajman, a Sunni Arab MP, was in his car when gunmen opened fire. Al-Ajman's driver was hit by the hail of gunfire, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
Al-Ajman was wounded by the attack, but the fatal blow came when the vehicle he was in, now completely out of control, flipped over several times and killed the MP.
Images surfacing on social media showed what was purported to be the wreckage, which was now little more than a hulk of twisted metal and deformed wheels. There was little chance that the passengers could have survived the accident.
In a statement, the Dhi Qar provincial authorities denied that the lawmaker's motorcade had been subjected to gunfire, and said that the car accident occurred due to the driver speeding excessively.
However, camera footage from the scene clearly showed bullet hole markings, as well as official state television confirming that the MP was targeted by gunmen.
Motive for Al-Ajman's assassination unknown
Al-Ajman was a parliamentary deputy hailing from Basra, and his personal Facebook account is replete with posts about the Sunni Arab community having opportunities in the new Iraq following the illegal 2003 US-led invasion.
The Sunni lawmaker had a close relationship with Sunni political parties such as the Iraqi Islamic Party, to whom the parliamentary speaker Saleem Al-Jibouri belongs to, which later broke down after Al-Ajman accused the Sunni leadership of committing grave errors.
"The path that the Sunni leadership is travelling on…has without a doubt taken the Sunni community into a catastrophe in every sense of the word," Al-Ajman posted to his Facebook page last April.
Parliamentarians such as Al-Jibouri are viewed by a significant proportion of the Sunni Arab community as being token Sunnis, whose positions of power and influence are limited and are only there to legitimise an Iran-backed, Shia-dominated Iraqi political system.
Although no group has as yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, Al-Ajman's assassination could either be from any number of sectarian Shia militias in the Dhi Qar area who attack even politicians who work in government, or by Sunni groups who he may have disagreed with.
Political assassinations are rife in Iraq, with many politicians and officials falling prey to violence in the unstable and unsecure Middle Eastern country.
Some politicians are targeted because of their sect or ethnicity, while others may be targeted for their perceived corruption or unwillingness to work with various groups that have special interests in the corruption that has turned Iraq into one of the least transparent and secure countries in the world today.