The government of Iraq responded angrily Thursday to calls by the leader of an al-Qaeda-linked organization to have the country's top Sunni officials killed, local media said.
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq militia, had said Wednesday that Iraq's top Sunni officials, including Vice- President Tareq al-Hashimi, should be killed because they were working "against Islam and in support of the American occupation", reported dpa
However government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency that "the call by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi to assassinate Iraqi officials, specifically Vice-President Tarek al- Hashimi, is a clear sign of its failure and its defeat in front of Iraqis and their national unity."
Al-Baghdadi had reportedly given members of al-Hashimi's Islamic Party 15 days to announce "repentance" for all except five people who, he said, must be killed as soon as possible. Al-Baghdadi included al- Hashemi among those five.
The Iraqi Islamic party is a Sunni political party, currently part of the government, of Nuri al-Maliki. Party general secretary al- Hashemi is one of Iraq's two vice-presidents.
The Islamic State of Iraq is an umbrella organization of a number of Iraqi insurgent groups, including al-Qaeda in Iraq.