Gunmen assassinate Iraqi Vice-President's brother

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Gunmen wearing military uniforms assassinated the brother of Iraq's Sunni Arab Vice-President in his home yesterday - the third sibling the official has lost this year to the country's violence.

Also yesterday, a car bomb ripped through a market in a Shia district of Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding 26. Eleven Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped in an attack on a checkpoint in Sadr City, another Shia district.

The US military announced that three Marines had died on Sunday after fighting in western Anbar province. The deaths brought to 32 the number of American service members who have died in Iraq this month.

Lt Gen Amir al-Hashimi, a defence ministry adviser and the brother of Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi, was killed by the gunmen who entered his north Baghdad home while wearing military uniforms.

Insurgents have often targeted the families of prominent politicians in an apparent effort to intimidate the country's leaders.

The general's death came five months after the Vice-President's sister and another brother were killed within two weeks of each other, both in shootings in the Iraqi capital.

In the killing of Mr Hashimi's sister, two militiamen were arrested shortly after she was killed, but the government did not say whether they were part of a Shia or Sunni group.

Mr Hashimi is Iraq's most prominent Sunni Arab political figure. Last month, the Vice-President urged Sunni-led insurgents to quickly join the Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national reconciliation effort. Earlier, he had called for the insurgency to be put down by force.

Mr Maliki condemned the killing as an "ugly, terrorist crime". "This wicked aggression shows that the criminal gangs behind it are aiming at hindering the political process and igniting sectarian strife," Mr Maliki said in a statement.