Iraqi novelist gunned down in southern city

BAGHDAD — A local police official says an Iraqi novelist has been killed by live fire in the southern city of Karbala.

The official says Alaa Mashzoub was gunned down Saturday night by unknown assailants after he left a literary event in the city and was headed home on his motorcycle. He spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations.

It was not immediately clear why Mashzoub was killed. Nawfal al-Hamadani, a member of the city's union of writers, told The Associated Press on Sunday that by the time Mashzoub's colleagues reached the hospital, he was already dead because of the large number of gunshot wounds he sustained.

Mashzoub has 20 published books and wrote extensively about Karbala's history and culture, and about Iraq's once-thriving Jewish minority.

Iraq has seen a number of political assassinations in the past year, particularly of outspoken activists and critics.

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Associated Press writer Mustafa Faraj contributed to this report.

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