Sister of Iraq vice-president shot dead

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A sister of Iraq's new Sunni vice-president was killed in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad today, police said.

Mayson Ahmed Bakir al-Hashimi, a sister of Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in a BMW sedan as she was leaving her home at 8am with her bodyguard in south-western Baghdad, said police Capt. Jamel Hussein. The bodyguard also died in the shooting, Hussein said.

It was the second killing in Tariq al-Hashimi's immediate family in two weeks.

On 13 April, his brother, Mahmoud al-Hashimi, was shot dead while driving in a mostly Shiite area of eastern Baghdad.

Today's killing came as Jawad al-Maliki, a Shiite hard-liner recently named as Iraq's new prime minister, is in the process of forming a new unity government aimed at stopping a wave of sectarian violence in Iraq.

Al-Malika has 30 days to assemble a Cabinet from divided Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties. The most contentious question will be filling key ministries that control security forces amid demands to purge them of militias blamed for the rise in sectarian bloodshed.