- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (AP) — Gunmen stormed a house in a northern, ethnically mixed city in Iraq, killing three Shiite Arab women who had recently moved there, police said Tuesday.

Police Col. Sherzad Mofaly of Kirkuk said it’s not clear why the women were targeted in the attack late Monday, but simmering ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds have long made Kirkuk a potential flashpoint that could unravel Iraq’s already shaky stability.

The women — a 55-year-old teacher, her daughter and a stepdaughter — moved to Kirkuk several months ago from the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, Mofaly said. Kirkuk is 180 miles north of Baghdad.

The teacher’s husband was at work as a gas station guard at the time of the attack, Mofaly said.

Separately, a senior Education Ministry official was killed Tuesday by a bomb that was hidden on his car in Baghdad, according to police and hospital officials.

Abdul-Amir Hussein was headed to work from his home in the mixed neighborhood of Dora in southern Baghdad when he died in the latest assassination extremists have launched against Iraqi government officials.

In other developments Tuesday, local lawmakers in Basra — Iraq’s second-largest city located 340 miles southeast of Baghdad — elected a new governor for a job that had been vacant for nearly two months.

Dr. Khalaf Abdul Samad, a member of the Dawa Shiite political party led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, replaces former Gov. Sheltagh Aboud al-Mayahi, who resigned Feb. 25 after protesters accused him of rampant corruption in Basra.

Al-Mayahi also was a Dawa party member.

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