BAGHDAD, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Despite successive security plans aimed at curbing violence and cracking down on insurgents, attacks on Iraqi officials and security men continue unabated.
In what appears to be a new weapon introduced by shadowy groups fighting the Iraqi government and its security bodies, three army and police volunteers died and 1,200 others were rushed to hospital from food poisoning.
Security sources said Monday the recruits suffered from poisoning symptoms Sunday evening shortly after having iftar, the sunset meal breaking the day of fasting during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
At least 60 victims were reported to be in critical conditions as an investigation was launched to verify whether the poisoning was caused by food or water.
In another incident, unidentified gunmen Monday assassinated presidential advisor Maj. Gen. Amer al-Hashimi, a Muslim Sunni, who is also the brother of Vice President Tarek al-Hashemi.
A security source said "gunmen disguised in police fatigues raided al-Hashemi's house in the area of Salikh in north Baghdad early morning, spraying their victim with automatic rifle fire, killing him instantly before fleeing."
Al-Hashemi was a member of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party. His brother and sister were killed a few months ago, but no group claimed responsibility for their slaying.
Observers fear that security plans designed to curb rampant violence in Baghdad and other Iraqi regions appear to be futile.