Iraqi novelist gunned down in Karbala

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A motorcycle gunman shot dead an Iraqi novelist close to his house in the city of Karbala on Saturday, police and eyewitnesses said.

Alaa Mashzoub, 50, was on his way home when he was shot multiple times, police said late on Saturday.

It was unclear what the motive was and no group has claimed responsibility, they added.

“The cultural scene has lost one of its special authors and creators,” Iraq’s Culture and Tourism Minister Abdul Amir al-Hamdani said in a statement on Sunday.

Mashzoub was active in local Karbala civil society.

Iraq’s writers union condemned the shooting and blamed security forces for not doing enough to protect intellectuals.

“The union holds the central and local government fully responsible, for they have failed to maintain public safety,” it said in a statement.

Mashzoub wrote several novels and short story collections that won local and regional literary awards.