The Iraqi Shi'ite faction led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says one of its senior lawmakers has been killed in a bomb attack in Baghdad.
Iraqi authorities say a bomb exploded near a car carrying lawmaker Saleh al-Auqaeili Thursday in the Habibiya district in the Sadr City neighborhood, a Shi'ite stronghold. Officials say at least two other people were also killed.
Al-Auqaeili is a member of a Sadrist political faction that holds 30 seats in the Iraqi parliament.
A senior U.S. military commander says he expects an increase in violence ahead of Iraqi regional elections early next year. Major General Michael Oates whose division operates in Shi'ite-dominated provinces south of Baghdad said there may be a wave of assassinations as rival factions fight for advantage.
His comments were not directly related to the Sadr City bombing.
Oates said he is concerned about "meddling" from Iran's intelligence agencies in support of insurgent groups that split off from the Sadrist movement.
Heavy fighting between Sadr's militia and security forces left hundreds dead in Baghdad in the past year, but violence decreased significantly after Sadr ordered several cease-fires.
U.S. officials have blamed splinter groups formerly associated with Sadr for some of the remaining violence in Iraq. Iranian officials have denied backing the Shi'ite militants, and blamed the presence of U.S. troops for Iraq's instability. They have discouraged the adoption of a new security pact between the United States and Iraq allowing for the continued presence of U.S. forces in the country after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year.
Iran's ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Kazemi-Qomi recently told the Los Angeles Times
newspaper that foreign military presence in Iraq is not in the interests of the Iraqi people or the region.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.