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U.N. condemns Mosul assassination

BAGHDAD, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The top U.N. envoy to Iraq condemned the assassination of a leading candidate in Mosul as political violence simmers ahead of provincial elections.

Gunmen shot and killed Mowaffaq al-Hamdani with the Iraq for Us slate in Mosul Wednesday as he sat in a local cafe.

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Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for Iraq, said the assassination was the "worst kind of election violence," the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq said in a press release.

"Campaign violence in Iraq must not be allowed to intimidate candidates or interfere with the right of every Iraqi to exercise their vote on Jan. 31," de Mistura said.

UNAMI said there has been an uptick in political violence in Mosul over the past week. Mosul is considered one of the remaining holdouts of al-Qaida in Iraq.

A suicide blast, meanwhile, killed three Iraqi police officers Thursday in the southern part of the city.

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