Iraqi PM vows to bring Hisham al-Hashemi's killers to justice

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Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi vowed Monday to bring the killers of an Iraqi researcher to justice, hours after Hisham al-Hashemi was shot dead near his home in Baghdad.

"We promise the killers that we will go after them so they may be served their just punishment," Kadhimi said, according to his office.

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Diplomats, officials and journalists mourned the loss of al-Hashemi, who a government official said was informally working as an advisor to al-Kadhimi.

The investigator assigned to the killing told AFP that al-Hashemi, 47, walked out of his home in east Baghdad and was getting into his car when three gunmen on two motorcycles fired at him from meters away. A medical source also told AFP that he suffered "a hail of bullet wounds in several body parts."

Al-Hashemi was wounded and ducked behind his car, but the gunmen approached and shot him four times in the head at close range, the investigator said.

Al-Hashemi was an authoritative voice on Sunni extremist factions including ISIS terror group, but was also frequently consulted by media and foreign governments on domestic Iraqi politics and Shia armed groups.

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He had come out strongly in favor of the popular protests that erupted across Baghdad and Iraq’s Shia-majority south in October, which had slammed the government as corrupt, inefficient and beholden to neighboring Iran.

More than 500 people lost their lives in protest-related violence, including several prominent activists who were gunned down in Baghdad, Basra in the south and other cities.

According to The Associated Press, al-Hashemi had voiced his fears that Iran-backed militias were "out to get him."

But high-profile political killings have otherwise been rare in recent years.

“Cowards killed my friend and one of the brightest researchers in Iraq, Hisham al-Hashemi. I am shocked,” wrote Harith Hasan, who was an academic researcher before becoming an advisor to Iraq’s current premier.

Al-Kadhimi said that he would "not allow the return of assassinations" to the Iraqi scene.

- With AFP and Reuters

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