In this photo taken on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, friends and relatives of Alaa Mashzoub light candles at his assassination site in Karbala, Iraq. Alaa Mashzoub, the Iraqi novelist who was gunned down this week in Karbala, was a secular civil society activist who used his bike to get around the Shiite holy city's infamous traffic and road closures. He was also an outspoken critic of foreign interferences in Iraqi affairs Iraq and political meddling by powerful militias backed by Iran. On Saturday, he was gunned down by unknown assailants who silenced him with 13 bullets as he rode his bicycle home for the last time. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

Slain Iraqi novelist was a secular, civil society activist

February 06, 2019 - 2:29 am

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi novelist Alaa Mashzoub was a secular civil society activist, an outspoken critic of foreign interference in Iraq and political meddling by powerful Iran-backed militias.

On Saturday, Mashzoub was gunned down in the central city of Karbala by unknown assailants who silenced him with 13 bullets as he rode his bicycle home for the last time.

Mashzoub's killing was the latest in a spate of assassinations targeting prominent figures in Iraq, including several activists linked to the protest movement in the southern city of Basra as well as a former beauty queen and social media celebrity. The killings have raised fears of a return to the kind of attacks on prominent figures that plagued the country at the height of its sectarian strife.

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