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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Fouad Massoum Elected Iraqi President

by VOA News July 24, 2014

Iraq's parliament has elected Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum as the country's new president, hours after militants killed at least 51 prisoners and eight policemen in an attack on a convoy north of Baghdad.

The 76-year-old Massoum was almost assured the job after Kurdish parties struck a late-night deal to support him.

The election Thursday paves the way for the much-delayed formation of a new government, but choosing a prime minister may prove far more difficult. And the violence underscores the challenges that lie ahead for the country's new leader.

Thursday's attack happened as the convoy was carrying prisoners from a military base in the town of Taji, about 20 kilometers from the capital. The convoy struck roadside bombs and then militants opened fire.

Iraq has been dealing with a surge in violence, particularly in the north where Sunni militants have seized large areas in a bid to establish an Islamic nation.

The United Nations says the militant extremist group called Islamic State have ordered all girls and women in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation. The 'fatwa' could effect four million women and girls.

In Baghdad, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held talks with Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The leaders addressed the crisis that has increased violence in Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

The government led by Maliki, a Shi'ite, has been criticized for sidelining minority Sunnis and Kurds.

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