Mayor of Iraq's Karbala assassinated by gunmen

Mayor of Iraq's Karbala assassinated by gunmen
The mayor of a majority Shia-city in southern Iraq was assassinated while out in public.
1 min read
11 August, 2021
Karbala has seen the killings of dozens of activists since 2019 [AFP/Getty]

Unidentified gunmen assassinated the mayor of a southern Iraqi city on Tuesday during a municipality campaign to help keep streets in order.

Abeer Al-Khafaji was killed while overseeing a campaign to tackle road violations in the city of Karbala, according to a statement issued by Karbala governor Jassem Al-Khattabi.

"The victim was working day and night in order to serve the community," said Al-Khattabi.

The state-run Iraqi News Agency reported that Al-Khafaji succumbed to his wounds after being shot three times.

Iraqi security forces have not arrested anyone following the murder and no side has claimed responsibility, although Iran-linked militias have been connected to assassinations of other politicians and activists.

Karbala is considered one of the most sacred sites for Shia Muslims and has been a hotbed of protests against the Iraqi government.

More than 600 people have been killed since Iraq's pro-democracy protest movement began in October 2019. Despite government pledges to find the perpetrators and hold them to account, few have been arrested in connection with the murders.

Several Iran-backed Shia militias are present and have strong influence across much of southern Iraq.

Some parties have voiced fears of holding the parliamentary elections scheduled for October in light of the instability.