Last updated: 11 September, 2013

Woman killed at Iraq Kurdish opposition rally

A woman was gunned down at a rally for Iraqi Kurdistan’s main opposition party in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, sources said Wednesday, 10 days ahead of regional parliamentary elections.

The shooting occurred on Tuesday night in the region’s second city, targeting a gathering of the Goran bloc, the third-biggest political party in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region and the largest opposition grouping.

“A 50-year old woman was transferred to Sulaimaniyah emergency hospital in a critical condition with a gunshot to the head and … died later on the operating table,” a medical source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The attack came after a similar incident on September 5, when a young man was wounded by a gunman at a Goran rally in the same location.

Goran candidate Barwa Mohammed confirmed the incident.

The shooting comes just 10 days ahead of September 21 parliamentary elections in the three-province northern region, and is at least the third attack on Goran supporters in the run-up to the polls.

Along with the September 5 incident, five people were wounded — two supporters, two policemen and a journalist — when a group of people targeted a Goran gathering earlier this month with sticks and water bottles, according to officials.

Goran, which means change in Kurdish, surprised many observers with a strong performance in July 2009 regional parliamentary elections.

The party failed, however, to break the duopoly on power held by the Kurdistan Democratic Party of regional President Massud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

It is looking to expand further in the upcoming polls, particularly in its home base of Sulaimaniyah province where it competes fiercely with the PUK.